Inverness group recalls vote on boathouse

07/31/2014

The recent vote by the Inverness Association to lift its decades-old deed restrictions on Brock’s Boathouse has been deemed invalid because of a violation of noticing protocols, said the association’s board president, Nick Whitney. The century-old building, originally a boat building and repair business on Tomales Bay, is currently in a permitting black hole because its coastal zoning marks it as a residential property, but deed restrictions expressly prohibit residential use. Owners Madeline and John Hope, Stefan Kirkeby and Mette Qvistgaard wish to lift those restrictions so they can pursue permits and repairs, and generally just operate legally. Ms. Hope told the Light that the owners would announce their plans following discussions with the county, but that the historic appearance of the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, would be maintained. Mr. Whitney says a new vote must be held before any discussions with the county can begin. An association member who missed the recent annual meeting pointed out to him a section of the group’s bylaws that stipulate that whenever members are permitted or required to take a vote, a 30-day notice must be given and the nature of the matter to be voted on explained; neither happened in this case. “We’re just a volunteer board doing our best and [we’re] not totally perfect,” Mr. Whitney said. He added that the member who missed the meeting “had real issues concerning the boathouse and whether we should give up the deed restrictions, and she didn’t get that opportunity.” (About two voting members dissented, but the membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of lifting the restrictions at the annual summer meeting). The board is tentatively planning another vote in September, but this time, it will be sure to send notices a month in advance. Though the boathouse owners will now have to wait to get the restrictions vacated, Mr. Whitney said it was best for everyone involved—the owners included—to hold another vote. “My feeling is that even though its inconvenience and an annoyance for the boathouse folks, this protects them, so that down the road this thing can’t be challenged.” (Please see page 7 for corrections to the Light’s previous story on the boathouse.)