By Don Nelson
The Winthrop Town Council, intending to send a message about enforcement of the town’s Westernization theme for businesses, has fined the owner of East 20 Pizza $150 for failing to meet the code’s requirements in a timely manner.
At its meeting last week, the council accepted a recommendation by the town’s Westernization Architectural Committee (WAC) to issue the fine — technically, a citation for civil enforcement that was delivered by the marshal’s office last Friday — after WAC member Lynette Westendorf outlined the process the town had followed during the recent remodeling of the pizza restaurant on Highway 20.
According to documents prepared by Cindy Hicks, WAC administrator, the town on several occasions had told East 20 Pizza owner Ryan Clement that the restaurant as remodeled was “not the same design” that the committee approved in November 2013.
A “notice of correction” was sent to Clement on Jan. 8, according to the town documents. Clement responded that he was waiting for state Liquor Control Board licensing before submitting a final design. Hicks urged Clement to submit the design soon.
Although Clement brought a new application to the town on Feb. 21, Hicks “deemed it incomplete,” according to the documents. Then followed a series of communications among Hicks, Clement’s contractor and others representing Clement about the application process.
Hicks indicated that a Westernization fee of $50 needed to be paid, that the materials list was incomplete, that windows needed a different treatment to comply with Westernization guidelines, and that other aspects of the remodeling were unclear.
By March 12, Hicks had not seen a new application, and she took the issue to the WAC. After reviewing the process, the committee recommended that the council issue a fine of up to $250 as provided in the town’s code.
Town clerk Michelle Gaines told the council last week that, after the WAC’s action, Clement completed a new application and returned it to Town Hall for review.
“They are working at coming into compliance,” Gaines said. She said the new application will be considered by the WAC today (March 26).
At last week’s meeting, Westendorf told the council that it was the WAC’s “unanimous agreement” to pursue a fine.
“This owner has pushed the envelope very far, and has made incomplete applications and errors along the way … the building and signs don’t look like what they were proposed in the [original] drawings,” Westendorf said.
Westendorf said that other businesses in town have been out of compliance and have been notified by the WAC, “and nothing happens.”
“We would like Westernization to have some teeth so it doesn’t happen again and again,” Westendorf said.
Council member Gaile Bryant-Cannon cited what she called a “build-it-first” attitude among some business owners and argued that the town needs to take the Westernization requirements seriously.
Council member Jessica Sheehan added, “if you want to make a point, you need to make it hurt.”
Gaines said issuance of a fine is the first step in the civil enforcement process.
Council member Mike Strulic, who cast the sole “no” vote against levying the fine, suggested that the town wait to see if Clement complies under the new application.
“He [Clement] is trying to expand. He’s doing well, and we don’t want to strangle that,” Strulic said. “But he would have to pay the piper if he didn’t comply.”
Mayor Sue Langdalen supported the fine. “If you let one person do it [ignore Westernization requirements], it will only keep getting worse,” she said.
Clement was out of town and could not be reached for comment.