Residents of a neighborhood on Wings Neck are cautiously optimistic that a recent state appeals court ruling will finally put an end to one resident’s use of her property for a commercial enterprise. The property owner has rented her home on Lighthouse Lane in violation of an order from the Bourne Zoning Board of Appeals.
A ruling issued on June 19 by the state appeals court in Boston upheld an earlier judgment in favor of the zoning board of appeals. The appeals court ruling denied an appeal by homeowner Christina Stevens to have the initial ruling overturned.
Ms. Stevens is the owner of 0-1 Lighthouse Lane, property located in a residentially zoned area of Bourne. For a number of years Ms. Stevens, as the owner of Lighthouse Realty Trust, has rented the property for weddings, receptions and other special events. Ms. Stevens argued that town zoning regulations permit rental of property for large events in a residential area as an accessory use.
In January 2013, the town brought to the Land Court a complaint against Ms. Stevens’s use of the property for commercial purposes. A cease-and-desist order was then issued to Ms. Stevens by former Bourne building inspector Roger M. Laporte.
Ms. Stevens then entered into an agreement with the Bourne Board of Selectmen that allowed limited use of the property for weddings and other special events. Mr. Laporte revised the cease-and-desist order to comply with the selectmen’s agreement.
Resident James F. Molloy appealed the selectmen’s agreement to the zoning board, which overturned the selectmen’s agreement and reinstated the cease-and-desist order from 2013.
Ms. Stevens appealed the zoning board’s decision to overturn the agreement she made with the selectmen. Barnstable Superior Court Judge Robert C. Rufo affirmed the zoning board’s decision to overrule the selectmen. Ms. Stevens then filed her appeal with the appellate court, naming the zoning board and Mr. Molloy as defendants.
In its ruling, the appeals court sided with the defendants and declared that the selectmen “were without authority to adjust or determine the proper enforcement of the bylaw as to Lighthouse’s property.”
Paula Meridan is a resident of Wings Neck. Ms. Meridan said she has been aware of Ms. Stevens’s use of the property for rentals dating back to 2004. The lack of respect for residents by guests attending events has been a sore point for her and her neighbors for 16 years, she said.
“It’s good news for everyone. Good news after 16 years of dealing with this issue on the Point,” Ms. Meridan said.
While she is thrilled with the appellate court’s judgment, Ms. Meridan said she realizes that Ms. Stevens can still take the case to the state supreme court. Ms. Meridan said she hopes this is the end of the road for this situation, “but with [Ms.] Stevens, we never know what she’s up to.”