Restorer cuts a deal to keep antique sailboat

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — A Southern California man who’s been restoring a 72-foot antique boat in his side yard has reached a settlement with Newport Beach, just as the city’s nuisance suit was set to go to trial Monday.

Dennis Holland said Saturday that city officials agreed to his plan to take the Victorian-era vessel apart and reassemble it in his backyard, where neighbors can’t see it. Holland said he will plant trees to help obscure the boat.

A judge will approve the agreement on Monday, Holland said, the same day he plans to begin dismantling the boat.

“That’ll be easy. I love building things. I certainly prefer it to filing court papers,” Holland said.

He has been restoring the 1916 ketch called the Shawnee in his yard since 2006 and had a permit to do so, but it expired last year when he refused to give a completion date. Newport Beach officials said the construction project violates an ordinance adopted in 2009. The city filed a lawsuit in June against Holland and his wife, Elizabeth.

As part of the settlement, Holland will admit the project violates Newport Beach code and will have 120 days to take the boat apart and either remove it or store it in a way that does not violate the law, city officials told City News Service.

“If the stipulated judgment is approved by (the judge), the city will achieve its goal and Mr. Holland will be able to keep his boat, as long as he does so in a lawful manner and doesn’t create a public nuisance,” City Attorney Aaron Harp told CNS. “This judgment will help to restore the residential character of this neighborhood.”

Holland, who’s been battling prostate cancer, said he hopes to race the Shawnee someday.

He said he’s relieved the legal process is over. “It’s harder to fight the city than it is to fight cancer,” he said.

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