Seabrook fisherman reaches deal to keep boat in front yard – The Union Leader
SEABROOK — A Seabrook fisherman has won a legal battle to keep a boat parked in front of his house and is now hoping that a proposed zoning change will keep other boat owners out of court.
A recent settlement between Anthony Coletti Sr. and officials from the Seabrook Beach Village District will mean he’ll be able to store the 22-foot boat in the driveway of his Ashland Street property from April 1 to Oct. 31, according to his wife, Jane, who’s stood by his side throughout the court fight.
The settlement followed a legal challenge that began a year ago when Stephen Keaney, the village district’s building inspector, took action in Rockingham County Superior Court in an effort to force Coletti to move the boat.
Keaney argued that the boat violated a 2014 change to a village district zoning ordinance that effectively banned boats from front yards in the village district, which is separate from the town.
Among other things, Keaney claimed that if residents “haphazardly park recreational and/or commercial boats in their front yards, a nuisance is created which destroys the residential fabric of the community.”
Coletti maintained that he’s parked the boat in the front yard for 30 years and that it had never been a problem.
Keaney’s lawyer, Eugene Geary, had filed a motion to seal the settlement agreement, but Judge William Delker recently denied the request. The agreement was not yet available at the court on Monday.
In response to his father’s case, Coletti’s son, Glen, has submitted a petitioned-warrant article signed by more than 70 residents from the village district and others in town for a vote at the annual district meeting in April.
The petitioned article seeks to remove “boats” and “watercraft” from the ordinance, meaning they would no longer be prohibited from front yards.
“I feel strongly that properly registered and inspected vehicles, especially boats and recreational vehicles, should be allowed in private homeowners’ driveways with no restrictions,” Glen Coletti said.
After his nearly yearlong battle, Anthony Coletti said he believes changing the ordinance to allow boats and other watercraft in front yards is the right thing to do.
“This is a beach. You can’t keep a boat in your driveway? It just goes against what’s right and what’s wrong,” he said.
Neither Keaney nor his lawyer could be reached for comment on the settlement or the petitioned article on Monday.
The settlement was mentioned by commissioners of the village district at a meeting on Nov. 14. According to minutes from that meeting, Commissioner Dick Maguire said he was “not totally happy with the outcome but was not displeased either. He thought the resolution was best for the district.”