KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
POWNAL -- The owner of the Mahican Moccasin Shop, which burned down in July, said he plans to rebuild but has some permitting issues to contend with first.
Charles Gray said he submitted a permit application to the town zoning administrator, who put it before the Development Review Board. He said the DRB had a number of questions for him, and it was agreed he would withdraw his application for the time being and resubmit once he did some research on the outstanding issues.
The Moccasin Shop was built in the 1960s, prior to the town's adoption of zoning bylaws. Gray sold Vermont crafts and Mahican-themed jewelry and footwear out of the large building which sat on the side of Route 7. Gray said the DRB had questions about his plans for parking, storm water runoff, and signage. He said the DRB has also asked him for copies of any state permits he may have received for his business.
Julie Weber, and alternate and secretary for the DRB, said some board members felt what Gray was proposing constituted a change of use, and the agreement was he would withdraw his permit and firm up his plans before resubmitting so the board would know what permits to require of him.
The building was a two-story wood frame structure that was completely destroyed by a fire that firefighters believed was electrical in nature. The fire happened to occur on Gray's 80th birthday.
Gray said he has hired an attorney to help him through the permitting process. He said there will be changes to the business, as it was underinsured and he is working with limited capital. "I've run into quite a few problems," he said, adding whatever he builds will be significantly smaller than what was there before, although it will occupy the same footprint, plus five or so feet if he has is way.
Gray said he would like to have two buildings, ultimately, and have another business operating out of the second. "Because of the downturn in the tourism business I would like to put something else in there besides the moccasin shop to supplement my income," he said.
He said to that end he has had to engage in a great deal of survey work and other research. He said he got the impression some on the DRB felt he was trying to build a mini-mart, but he said that was not the case. He said for a lengthy portion of the building's history, a sewing shop was operating inside along with his moccasin business.