BREWSTER – Alexander Wentworth said he has the impression that the Town of Brewster is not welcoming to young business people after his bid to get a zoning change on a Route 6A failed.
“The overall feeling that we got from town meeting or at least I got, was that the young people or young businesses really are not welcome here, so I have to put that into perspective too on whether or not I really want to follow up on anything else as far as wanting to keep my business in this town,” said Wentworth, who is 35 and grew up in nearby Orleans.
Brewster Town Meeting on November 17 said a strong “no” to the request to change the zoning on 10 lots or about three acres of useable land, including Wentworth’s lot of about three-quarters of an acre, from village business zoning to commercial high density.
Wentworth, the owner of Wentworth Motorsports, needed the rezoning in order to move his foreign auto repair shop to his lot on Route 6A.
He said he is not sure he has any options left to keep his business in Brewster. He said he is getting mixed messages from Town Hall on his options and so his only option, as he sees it, is to hire a lawyer to find out what is possible.
“The only option that might be available is a use variance. but that doesn’t look likely because of the way it is worded. You have to show a hardship and a hardship is considered a topographical hardship and I’m not sure that actually qualifies as a hardship,” he said. Another option is get automotive use added to village business zoning, which is the way the lot is zoned now.
Wentworth said the rejection by town meeting was emotional for him. “It’s my family being here in Brewster. If this doesn’t work, my business has to expand or I need to go do something else. Either it works at this job or I move to another town,” he said.
He purchased the lot earlier this year for $360,000. “This is kind of an ideal spot for my business. . . . There really isn’t any other option in Brewster as far as land to buy to run my business on, contrary to what the opposition said,” he said.
Opponents said they did not want any industrial-style uses on the historic Old King’s Highway.
Wentworth purchased his .7-acre lot with a 4,200-square-foot building that had formerly housed a car mechanic’s shop, and so it would be inexpensive to start a similar shop there. He said he remembered seeing the car repair shop when he was a young child and thinking it would be a good place to have a business some day.
He was hoping to expand his shop which is on property he currently rents on Thad Ellis Road, which is three or four miles from the lot on Route 6A. The current shop has one and a half bays and two lifts, too small, he said, to operate the business. Cars have to park on the street, which is also not ideal, he said. There is no room to expand, he added.
Wentworth specializes in repairing European cars. He has had the shop for 16 years.
Wentworth grew up in South Orleans. His father has always owned property in Brewster, which was across the street from their house in Orleans, he said.
Wentworth said people against the zoning change lobbied hard against him, including picketing before the town meeting. He believes some of the information spread by the opposition was false and misleading.
“It got a lot uglier than it really needed to be. It feels like to me that people were lied to and sent down a path that wasn’t necessary and I think that’s kind of a shame,” he said.
He said information that a septic treatment plant or a hotel could be built on the lot was not accurate, because there were really only three acres available and they were not contiguous. Lots occupied by Cape Cod Ready Mix and the Animal Rescue League are also near the site and would have been included in the re-zoning. There is also a construction company on one of the lots that would have been rezoned and the rest of the land is owned by the state, Wentworth said.
“Most of what they touted as the big scary uses could never have happened there anyway,” he said. He said opponents also walked around the meeting with photos of derelict automotive shops. “It got really unnecessary, I think,” he said.
He said his current location is too small for his business and he may look outside of town to expand.
This was the second time the matter came before Town Meeting. It easily passed at the Spring Town Meeting, but there were issues with the posting of the meeting because of a snowstorm, so it needed to be revoted, he said.
“I kind of expected more from local people than that,” he said.