Newport Beach reached a tentative settlement of its dispute with a cancer-stricken resident who has built a 72-foot boat in the side yard of his property, just before Monday's scheduled start of the trial on the city's nuisance suit, representatives of both sides said Friday.
The dispute has dragged on for years as city officials have tried to get Dennis and Elizabeth Holland to remove the boat, the Shawnee, from his property. City officials say it violates an ordinance adopted in 2009 and filed a lawsuit against the Hollands in June.
"I'm happy, I'm excited," Dennis Holland told City News Service. "It's a good thing, really. I have to take her all apart and then I have 120 days to do that. I can put it all back together behind the house out of public view. We've set up all sorts of things so people can't see it.''
The boat has become a passion project for Holland, who suffers from prostate cancer.
"I'm still doing treatments and stuff and the doctors watch me closely, but I'm responding good to the treatments," Holland said. "And my doctors said there's a bunch of stuff coming out this summer that's amazing."
Holland said he's in "sort of remission." The stress of the dispute with the city hasn't helped, but relief is on the way when a judge is expected to sign off on the settlement Monday, he added.
"This is going to be the first night I can sleep well and relax now that I know we're done with this and can save the boat," Holland said. Holland praised attorneys representing the city for their work on the settlement.
As part of the settlement, Holland will admit the project violates the city's code, but will have four months to take the boat apart and either remove it or store it in a way that does not violate the city's law, according to city officials.
Holland can reconstruct the boat on his property, but must do it in a way that does not violate city law. Holland said he will plant trees to help obscure the boat.
City officials doubt Holland can fully rebuild the boat on his property, according to city public information officer Tara Finnigan and city attorney Aaron Harp.
"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,'' Harp said.
"This judgment will help to restore the residential character of this neighborhood."
—City News Service