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Newport Beach man must remove 72-foot ship from his yard

March 4, 2012 |  5:03 pm

Dennis Holland with Shawnee, the boat he's restoring at his Newport Beach home
A Newport Beach man who has been restoring a 72-foot wooden ship in his yard for six years has been ordered to remove the boat or risk going to jail.

The court order is the latest development in a long-running conflict between Dennis Holland, some of his neighbors and city officials, who sued the 65-year-old resident in an effort to have the vintage ship removed.

Holland now has until April 30 to remove the ship from his Holiday Road home, or face fines of up to $1,000 a day, or possibly jail time, according to Deputy City Atty. Kyle Rowen.

Superior Court Judge Gregory Munoz issued a preliminary injunction Thursday and set an April 30 trial date.

Holland has been restoring the Shawnee, a 1916 ketch, in his West Bay neighborhood home for about six years.

Some neighbors support the project, saying it adds a splash of character to the community, while others — including the couple who can see the stern from their bedroom — want it moved to an industrial area.

"We know it's a step in favor of removing that big blight out of the neighborhood," said neighbor Dalia Lugo.

Holland, who said his work was slowed when he underwent cancer treatment, said he needs another three to four years to restore the ship.

Last year, city officials took Holland to court after repeated fines and orders failed to budge the boat.

Holland has been violating a 2009 ordinance that requires him to obtain a permit and give officials an estimated completion date. Because Holland said the project is too complex to pick a date, the city hasn't granted him a permit since 2010.

"Mr. Holland has been in violation of city laws for many years and has had ample opportunity to move the boat to a suitable location," City Atty. Aaron Harp wrote in an email Friday. "The city is hopeful that Mr. Holland will comply with the court order and move the boat to a suitable location that is consistent with applicable laws."

Holland contends that his restoration project was legal when he moved the boat to his home and that the city cannot retroactively enforce a law. He also argues that the city singled him out when it created the ordinance in 2009.

It took him about 12 years to build the Pilgrim, a 118-foot replica of a 1770 schooner, now sailing in Dana Point Harbor. That project was during a different era -- the 1970s and 1980s -- and on a Costa Mesa street with different neighbors.

"I can't move the boat," Holland said Friday. "The city's going to have to come in and destroy it. I don't have the heart to."


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-- Mike Reicher, Times Community News 

Photo: Dennis Holland  with the ship he's restoring at his Newport Beach home. Credit: Leah Thompson / Daily Pilot