Overview: candy store opening stalled due to permitting issues

By Andrea Ray | Jun 23, 2017
Photo by: Andrea Ray

Marion — Summer resident Brian Kelly’s effort to help his autistic son open a small candy store inside a new barbershop on Route 6 last week ignited a storm of controversy. The plans ran into Marion zoning bylaws -- prompting a cease-and-desist order, an initial move to Mattapoisett, what looked like an agreement with Marion Planning Board officials that would allow the candy store to operate, and finally, a legal snafu that has stalled the opening.

The barbershop is run by longtime Carver-based barber Rob Rooney. The candy shop, called Patrick’s Candy Pantry, will be operated by Patrick “The Candy Man” Kelly. Brian Kelly developed the former Al’s Yankee Clipper into Rooney’s and included a small space for his 19-year-old son to sell candy.

Patrick Kelly sold produce outside the barbershop last summer and spent nine months planning his new venture with his family. Brian Kelly explained that the storefront was about giving Patrick the opportunity to interact and socialize with customers.

Patrick Kelly had initially planned only to sell packaged candy, but later, officials caught wind of the family’s plans to operate an ice cream truck in the parking lot of the barbershop and provide outdoor seating. That triggered the need for the Kellys to secure a special permit through the town -- a permit for which the Kellys did not apply.

“I originally understood that the barbershop might sell small pre-packaged candies,” Planning Board member Steve Kokkins explained during the board’s Monday meeting. “But then later I heard that there would also be an ice cream truck and outdoor seating involved. That changes the nature and intent of the business,” he explained, “and brings with it the need for a special permit.”

The special permit that Kokkins referred to was for “fast food.” The store’s ice cream truck meets the definition of fast food under Marion’s bylaws, as the ice cream requires some preparation time and is packaged for take-out.

Thus, town officials had to make a tough call, as the candy store was poised to open on June 16.

“We asked about other options,” explained Planning Board Chair Eileen Marum, “but Town Counsel [Jon Witten] encouraged Building Commissioner Scott Shippey to order a cease and desist until everything could be sorted.”

The cease and desist order was issued by Shippey on Wednesday, June 14 -- two days before Patrick Kelly planned to open. In an effort to stay the course, Brian Kelly collaborated with Mike and Kate Sudofsky, Marion residents and owners of The Ropewalk in Mattapoisett, who offered Patrick Kelly space in that plaza and waived the rst month’s rent.

“They were great,” Brian Kelly said of the Sudofskys and of the Town of Mattapoisett. “They sent us the permit forms we needed, asked us to send them back, and rolled out the red carpet for us.”

The arrangement seemed ideal, as The Ropewalk could accommodate the ice cream truck, too. But Patrick spends his summer months living in Marion and wanted his candy shop to be located in Rooney’s Barbershop.

The Kellys attended the Marion Planning Board’s meeting on Monday, and during the portion designated for public discussion, Patrick Kelly asked: “Can I please have my original candy store back?”

His father also presented an idea. “If we were to remove the ice cream truck and the seating,” he asked the board, “could we get a temporary license to sell candy?”

The request was unanimously approved by the board, with the stipulation that the town’s attorney review the temporary license.

But on Tuesday June 20, Marum explained that Attorney Witten advised the Planning Board that it does not have the authority to effectively overturn the building commissioner’s cease and desist order. The Kellys will need to contact Marion’s Zoning Board of Appeals to straighten that out.

The Planning Board will review the ice cream truck and outdoor seating arrangements during a public hearing on July 10, according to officials.

Board members said they aren’t happy that the process played out as it did.

“We’re all parents on this board. We all want to do right by our children,” Marum said. “But if we were to let this permit slip, someone would complain about why we were treating businesses differently. It’s a lose-lose situation, unfortunately.”

"We fully support Patrick Kelly's endeavors," added Kokkins.

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