By Don Nelson
After waiting more than five months for a popular downtown business to comply with a requirement in the town’s Westernization code, the Winthrop Town Council decided at its meeting last week to impose a civil fine if the violation isn’t corrected by Jan. 31.
In a memo to the council from Cindy Hicks, administrator of the town’s Westernization Architectural Committee (WAC), Hicks said that the town sent a notice of violation to the Copper Glance bar on Riverside Avenue on July 29, 2015. Garbage cans and appliances alongside the building were visible from the street, which the code does not allow.
The July notice advised Copper Glance’s owners to “remove all items or apply for a screen to shield the items from view.” An application form was enclosed. Hicks said the offending items should be removed, or a screen applied for, by Aug. 10.
After nothing happened for several months, Hicks’ memo said, a notice of violation was sent to the owners — Leia Hansen, Shiah Lints, Liam Doyle and Sol Gutierrez — on Dec. 10, requiring compliance by Dec. 21. Lints acquired an application to install a screen on Dec. 22, the memo said.
On Jan. 11, Hicks took photos at the bar showing that no action had been taken yet and the business was still in non-compliance. On Jan. 13, the WAC passed the issue along to the town council with a recommendation for enforcement, noting that “ample opportunities” had been provided for compliance.
In a letter to the council dated Jan. 19, co-owner Liam Doyle apologized for the delay and said the violation would be corrected as quickly as possible. Doyle said a “miscommunication” among the owners led to the issue “falling between the cracks,” “and we can assure you it will not happen again.”
“A great deal of our success is because of our location and it authentic time-period charm,” Doyle said. “We wish to be an active participant in the preservation of the great theme that we all work to maintain.”
The council appreciated the letter but otherwise had little sympathy.
“It’s nice to get an apology,” council member Gaile Bryant-Cannon said at last week’s meeting. “But the fact remains that this has been going on far too long.”
“We’ve been more than fair,” council member Rick Northcott said.
Town Clerk Michelle Gaines said Doyle had brought an application to install a new screen the day before the council meeting.
Mayor Sue Langdalen credited Doyle for his quick response, but added that “they have had plenty of notices.”
Bryant-Cannon said “we can’t walk away with no fine … we’ve done that too many times.” People will lose faith in Westernization if the town doesn’t enforce the ordinance, she said.
The council unanimously voted to levy a minimum fine of $250 if the violation is not corrected to the town’s satisfaction by the end of this month.
In other business, Langdalen told the council that three candidates for two police officer openings in the Marshal’s Office will be interviewed this week. The department currently does not have any sworn officers since former interim Marshal Ken Bajema resigned. The marshal’s office has had three full-time officers in the past, but the council agreed earlier to reduce the full-time force to two. Police officers from other local agencies have been covering the town on a temporary basis.
The council to agreed to pay up to $1,500 toward the purchase of a new convection oven for the Winthrop Barn kitchen. Bob Stone of the Winthrop Barn Association told the council that the existing oven is more than 25 years old and unreliable. Council member Mike Strulic suggested that the association consider looking for a used oven with only a couple of years of wear.
The council also appointed Joanne Headou, Teri Parker, Barb Preston and former mayor Dave Acheson to positions on the town’s planning commission.