Neighbor Says Cease and Desist Ignored at North Bluff Garage

By CHRIS BURRELL

All work on a controversial garage project in the North Bluff section of Oak Bluffs was supposed to grind to a halt last month under a cease and desist order issued by the town building inspector, but at least one neighbor says the saws were running over the weekend inside the three-story building.

"It's amazing. Legally there's not supposed to be anyone in there," said Belleruth Naparstek, an abutter and an outspoken critic of the project which has angered much of the neighborhood.

Mrs. Naparstek filed a complaint yesterday with building inspector Richard Mavro, alerting him to the evidence of continued work - the saws running and the delivery of more building materials.

Mr. Mavro did not return telephone calls from the Gazette.

Selectman Kerry Scott also contacted Mr. Mavro, asking him to take further action to halt any more construction at the site.

Last week, an attorney for Joseph Moujabber - owner of the garage - filed an appeal of Mr. Mavro's decision to revoke the building permit for the project. Mr. Moujabber is the cousin and business partner of Oak Bluffs businessman Douglas Abdelnour. They own and operate Nancy's Snack Bar, an established restaurant on the Oak Bluffs harbor.

A hearing in front of the zoning board of appeals will likely take place August 19. It will be the third time that the board has taken up the matter. Initially, neighbors were challenging Mr. Mavro's decision to issue a building permit.

Yesterday, Mrs. Naparstek railed against the Moujabber building and urged town leaders to fight it.

"I hope and pray the town does the right thing and saves Oak Bluffs from further degradation, which will ironically only further hurt businessmen because people will stop wanting to come here," she said. "It won't be attractive anymore."

Attorney Michael Vhay, a partner in the Boston law firm of Piper Rudnick, argued in his letter to the zoning board that the original building permit issued last November to Mr. Moujabber was legal and that the permit should be reinstated.

But last month under growing pressure from neighbors and at least one other town board, Mr. Mavro issued a cease and desist order and then revoked the building permit.

When Mr. Moujabber applied for a building permit last fall, he told the Oak Bluffs building inspector he was replacing an old one-car garage in his backyard at a cost of $22,000. The new structure would be used for storage space only, the application stated.

But the building that went up is three stories tall with balconies and a roof deck and sliding glass doors. It encompasses just under 3,000 square feet.

Last month, zoning board of appeal members questioned just what Mr. Moujabber intended to do with the new building since it bore the marks of more than just a garage.

The Cottage City Historic District Commission also questioned the project, one member arguing that the application should have been referred to the ZBA for a special permit.

Mr. Vhay defended Mr. Moujabber's garage on the grounds that zoning bylaws allow construction that makes a non-conforming structure less non-conforming - in this case, increasing the setback from neighboring property lines.

It will be up to zoning board members to decide later this summer. And it won't be the first time they have dealt with Mr. Moujabber and his partner, Mr. Abdelnour.

Four years ago, the two businessmen added a second floor to Nancy's under strict requirements from the ZBA that it would be used for storage only. By 2002, the owners appealed the zoning board decision to superior court and convinced neighbors not to object to the expansion of their restaurant to the second floor, a move that created 140 more seats, a new bar and second floor patio for Nancy's.