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MOTORIOT owner finds zoning compliance frustrating

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KENT—In a testy exchange with the Planning and Zoning Commission at its May meeting Jason Doornick, co-owner of the MOTORIOT car dealership at 21 Bridge St., asserted that he is in a “Catch-22” situation, where he is expected to conform to town regulations but is not being given sufficient help in coming into compliance.

A view of MOTORIOT, located at 21 Bridge Street, from February. Photo by Lynn Mellis Worthington

“I feel like a lot of this is putting the cart before the horse,” said the young entrepreneur, who opened his business last February without getting either local permits or a state license for the site. “Our organization is dependent on us being established as a business, but we’re being asked to not do things that we need to do if we’re going to be organized. I don’t feel like you guys are on board with us as a new business. We’re getting more resistance than assistance.”

MOTORIOT sells and services restored vintage vehicles. Doornick and his partner Charles Narwold have been advised that they cannot park cars on the sidewalk in front of the dealership and that they must not use the handicap parking indicated on a site plan submitted in 2021 by property owner Guy Mauri. 

At the time of the P&Z meeting, they had not appeared before the Architectural Review Board for approval of the esthetics of their signs, which had already been installed (they have since obtained approval) and had not gotten approval from the Sewer Commission for any impact that they might have on the town’s sewage system.

There are six businesses located in the building, all of which have access to the parking lot. Doornick asserts that he has the right to use 19 parking spaces, counting vehicles displayed inside the building. He said he and his partner are in the process of acquiring the building. “Once that happens, we can organize the parking in a way that benefits all the businesses, he said.

PZC Chairman Wes Wyrick said his concern is that there is no clearcut plan for parking. He said he counted at least a half-dozen cars in front of the business and not in the parking area and that the handicap spaces were not being honored. Doornick said that certain parking spaces were designated in his lease. 

“I’m not sure what your remark is about,” Doornick said. “Are you saying there are too many cars?”

“Yes, I would say that is correct,” Wyrick responded. Doornick, said he had purchased a car for his employees to use so only one parking space was needed for them. “And this is the first I have heard about parking in handicap parking spots,” he continued. 

“They are shown in the parking plan you submitted,” replied Wyrick.

Doornick was annoyed that Wyrick had counted cars. “Clients with classic cars show up,” he said. “The cars you counted could be exclusive of us. Unfortunately, people just pull in and nestle where they are most comfortable. You don’t know which are ours and it’s not fair to weaponize the regulations against us.”

Doornick said he had sent Land Use Administrator Tai Kern a map with the spaces reserved for his business circled. She said she had not received it. 

With so many businesses located in the building and only a gentleman’s agreement about which spaces are designated for MOTORIOT, PZC Vice Chairman Karen Casey suggested that the responsibility might not lie with Doornick at all, but rather with property owner Guy Mauri. 

“The town is excited to have you there,” she said, “but it is also complicated. Take some of pressure off yourselves and let him come up with a plan for the tenants. It shouldn’t be on your shoulders. The site plan is very loosey-goosey as to who parks where. We want approve this, but we can’t without a clear picture.”

Board member Lawrence Dumoff agreed. “Is it incumbent on this business to control parking on the property?” he asked. “Shouldn’t we talk to the owner?”

It was suggested that the parking spaces could be color-coded so it would be obvious who had what parking spaces. 

Doornick promised to be diligent about marking spaces.

Doornick complained that he had sent emails to the Sewer Commission but had received no response. He said he had been verbally assured by Chairman Elissa Potts that there would be no problem while he was eating at her restaurant.

Potts said at the Sewer Commission’s meeting on May 17 that this was not true. She said Doornik had sent information about the car business but didn’t send information on how it would affect the sewer system. “So, it will have to wait another month,” she said.

Kathryn Boughton
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