BELGRADE – A plump red chicken made its way under the frame of a 24ft boat without caring about the world.

Eight chickens, seven rescued greyhounds, employees, owner Shawn Grant and his family reside among the countless boats at Brightside Marine’s 12-acre property, just steps from downtown Belgrade Village.

Shawn Grant on the docks on July 16, 2018, at Brightside Marina, the business he owns in Belgrade Lakes Village. File Andy Molloy / Kennebec Journal

The world is ready to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Grant is also up for change, but for a very different reason.

Embroiled in controversy over the use of his docks and property with the city in recent years, Grant, 59, is now focused on expanding his Brightside Marine boat rental and restoration business on Hulin. Road.

“I can finally run my business,” Grant said last week from his office at the marina. “I can finally do what I know how to do, and that’s grow a small business. “

Winding his way through busy gravel and grass paths through a shipyard filled with new and old projects, Grant seems at peace. Dressed in brown cargo shorts, flip flops and a well-worn corporate shirt, a broad smile surfaces when he talks about his job. A 1947 Chris Craft is loaded into a three-bay garage next to a 1964 Chris Craft, one of Grant’s largest customer projects. The boat has arrived in full, but Grant and his crew dismantled it and are in the process of replacing 90% of the wood on the boat.

Opened in 2008 as a wooden boat repair business under its official name Brightside Wooden Boat Services, Brightside Marine has expanded to repair fiberglass boats, rent boats, organize boat trips, store boats, repairs and sells electronic motors. The catering part of the activity, which can take up to 1,500 hours by boat, represents 85% of turnover, and rentals 15%. Grant lives on site and his property is on both sides of Hulin Road.

Grant filed a complaint in 2018 against the city over his property and docks at the marina. The city won the lawsuit after the Maine Supreme Court ruled that Grant could no longer force people to use the docks at his Great Pond Outlet Stream business. Grant also paid a fine of $ 20,000.

“I’m tens of thousands of dollars lighter than my wallet, but I’m still here,” Grant said. “I don’t feel any animosity when I walk into the Day’s store.”

Every day there are over a dozen project boats at the back of the marina where he works between 70 and 80 hours a week. Grant and co. refurbish these boats to rent or sell them, but their main mission is the restoration of customers’ boats. The company rents a property in Rome for indoor storage. The company rents 10 boats in addition to the catering, which represents 90% of turnover. The winter months are mainly spent restoring client boats and those the company owns, Grant’s “projects”.

His property extends behind the houses on Hulin Road. Grant is renting the house and garage next to his for additional storage, and new this summer has two Brightside Marine employees living there. Walking around Grant’s property is seeing a type of store that is rare for the State of Maine. Some of the boats appear ready to be launched, while others near the back of her property need more work. Some of them have been there for years with an unclear timeline for completion.

“Recoverable projects to our standards,” Grant said.

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

As part of the settlement agreement with the city in July 2020 after a lawsuit involving Grant’s Docks, Brightside Marine was granted a commercial license. In a sometimes grueling public hearing ahead of a vote on the business license application in March, neighbors came out strongly for both Grant and Grant. The move from residential to commercial occupancy is the first of two permit adjustments, with Grant in the process of acquiring a commercial zoning permit on the shoreline.

Cody Drever sands pieces of a boat being restored on May 12 at Brightside Marine in Belgrade. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentry

Belgrade City Manager Anthony Wilson said Grant was in compliance with the city office and worked with the staff responsible for enforcing the code on business permits.

“We have no concerns,” Wilson said, “and if any concerns are raised, we will look into them.”

Grant said he “gets on well” with most of his neighbors and believes those who spoke out against him at the March public hearing have “an ulterior motive” because there is a right to passage of a neighbor between the two parts of his property. .

But the same neighbors who spoke in March are still expressing concern over the situation three months later. They worry about the value of the property, the quality of the lake and the general interactions between neighbors. They sometimes describe Grant’s property as a “dumping ground.”

One of them is Susan Terhune, who owns land on the nearby Red Oaks Lodge road. Her father, Terry, also lives nearby during the summers. Susan Terhune stays there part-time during the winter and that includes the right of way.

“The way Shawn works is just not friendly,” said Susan Terhune. “It creates an uncomfortable living environment because if you want to go for a walk you have to go through his house.”

Stacey Richards, who lives next door to the Terhunes during the summers, called the situation “tense.”

“From an impartial point of view, if you just look at the facts, there are hundreds of people who have written letters, but only a few people are brave enough to speak up,” Richards said. “Anything you can do wrong, he has done it, but the city always allows it when there is this pushback of residents.”

Cody Drever gets a measure as he restores a boat at Brightside Marine in Belgrade on May 12. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentry

Terry Terhune, 91, expressed concern about the potential for commercial traffic in the residential area. He wants the city to regain control and fears the value of his property will decline, but also said he “wishes Grant all the best in his business, but not in my distress.”

Ed Wurpel is also a seasonal resident of Red Oaks Lodge Road and believes Grant is following the law and doing what he’s supposed to do.

“People want to control things they don’t own, but it doesn’t work that way,” Wurpel said. “If you want to control the property, you have to buy it. (Grant) is just trying to make a living and people just don’t like what he does there.

BACK TO BUSINESS

Brightside Marina is unique in its field. There are many boat rental companies out there, but few also specialize in restoring wood, metal and fiberglass boats.

One of the changes with the Marina Business License is that they can employ more workers. Grant has doubled his roster from two to four, plus himself, in recent months.

“The sky is the limit, basically,” he said.

JT Stevens is thinking about his next cut on May 12 while restoring a 1967 18 foot Chris Craft boat at Brightside Marine in Belgrade on May 12. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentry

Prior to opening Brightside Marine, Grant was a co-owner of a logging equipment dealer and a heavy equipment dealer specializing in low impact forestry. While the pandemic has affected all industries, Grant’s business has remained virtually unscathed.

After a difficult spring, this past summer has been one of the busiest in Brightside Marine. With the exception of a struggle to find a new inventory of boats, this summer promises to be busy again.

“The bullets came out,” Grant said. “It’s going to be crazy.”

Grant once worried about having to move. The limited revenues raised concerns about profitability. Now it’s back to normal, sort of.

“I’m still digesting it,” Grant said. “When you fight for four years in a row, you just get used to the fight. I feel much more peaceful.


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