CEO to crack down on theater group

TREMONT — The town’s code enforcement officer is investigating possible zoning ordinance violations at a home used by an arts collective.

The home, at 130 Tremont Road, is owned by Andrew and Matthew Simon. Andrew Simon is a founder of the Mohawk Arts Collective, which for the past three summers has been producing plays and musical events in a small barn on the property. The fare has ranged from Shakespeare to children’s shows to original works by members of the collective.

In August, code enforcement officer Debbi Nickerson sent the Simons a notice that they possibly were in violation of two sections of the zoning ordinance.

The first violation involves a hand-painted sign erected in the yard of the home advertising that week’s activities in the barn. The ordinance requires that all signs exceeding 6 square feet in size require a permit. No permit was obtained, Nickerson said.

The second violation involves the non-conforming nature of the Simon’s property. As of now, the property is considered a residential non-conforming use. According to the ordinance, any change of use must meet certain criteria and get approval from the planning board. Nickerson said she believes the plays and other events being held in the barn constitute a change of use. No such approval was sought, she said.

On Tuesday, Nickerson took her concerns to the planning board. The Simons were notified that the issue was to be discussed but did not attend the meeting.

Several planning board members commented that they appreciated what the collective has been doing. But, as one of those members said, that fact doesn’t give them immunity from the zoning ordinance.

“I think it’s interesting, and I think we should foster that kind of thing, but we do have an ordinance,” said chairman Mike Ryan.

Nickerson told the board that she was unsure how to proceed.

Ryan pointed out that violations are a code enforcement matter and not an issue for the planning board.

“You have to research it and find out what you need to do,” he said.

If determined truly to be violations, then Nickerson should levy any fines or other penalties that are warranted, the planning board concluded.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander