Mr. Holland’s Boat Opus

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Newport Beach boat builder Dennis Holland stands amid the remains of his 100-year old ship, Shawnee.

Newport Beach boat builder Dennis Holland and a court appointed receiver have reached an agreement to complete the final stages of the disassembly of the Shawnee, a 100-year old, 72-foot ship that once stood in the side yard of the Holland’s residence on Holiday Road just off Irvine Avenue near the Newport Beach-Costa Mesa border .

Although nearly completely disassembled now, the ship’s keel along with other key structures and parts remain intact, and according to Holland, will ultimately be used in completing the restoration of the ship.

The agreement came after multiple meetings and consultations between Holland and the receiver over the past month.

Holland and his ship have been in a lengthy legal tug-of-war with the city of Newport Beach. In 2009, after receiving complaints from neighbors regarding Holland’s backyard boat building project, the city passed an ordinance regulating residential area boat building. Holland and his boat became subject to the rules of the new ordinance in early 2010.

Initially, Holland was issued a permit by the city and allowed to continue building his boat, but the city later refused to issue additional permits when Holland was unable to provide a completion timetable for the project as required by the city’s new ordinance. In 2011, the city filed suit against Holland for violating the provisions of that ordinance.

Last April, after months of legal wrangling in Orange County Superior Court, Holland and the city reached an agreement that called for disassembly of the ship but allowed the ship to remain at its current location. It also required that the city ordinance prohibiting boat projects over 35-feet and other related laws were not violated in the process.

The ship has now been almost entirely disassembled by Holland. Due to his battle with prostate cancer and a variety of technical issues about exactly how and what was required by the agreement to be disassembled, the completion of the project has been delayed.

Mark Adams, the Los Angeles based receiver appointed by the court last November, met with Holland on at least two occasions at this Newport Beach home and has viewed and inspected the site numerous times. Exactly how the boat and its remaining pieces will be disassembled and stored at the location in compliance with the court-approved settlement to the satisfaction of both the receiver and Holland remains to be seen. A Newport Beach Independent representative has been present at the meetings at the invitation of both parties.

Adams, who recently submitted a “first report and proposed order” to the court for approval, told the Independent on Monday that “the court had accepted my plan” and that the project was moving forward.  He also said he intends to visit the site again this week.

In the meantime, Holland has been busy tearing down, cataloging and cleaning a large amount of material and debris from the ship with the help of friends and supporters. Holland says the painstaking process is key to retaining those components of the ship which he still intends to use in rebuilding and restoring the ship in the years to come.

Where exactly he will be able to do that is still in question. For now, the agreement between Holland and the city prohibits any reassembly of the ship at the Holiday Road property for a period of 18 months. Cleanup, restoration and disposal of various parts of the ship will continue at the location according to both parties.

In a report submitted by receiver Adams to Superior Court Gregory Munoz late last month and obtained by the Independent, Adams says “I have inspected the property and the boat several times and have met with Mr. Holland and his representatives. I represent to the court that all parties are in agreement with the substantive provisions of this report.”

In the report Adams goes on to spell out the agreement in detail:

“Mr Holland will remove all wood debris from the boat from his yard by December 25, 2012. He will also take down the cradle currently surrounding the keel and will remove the timbers and lead holding the keel, clean them and store them behind the house or the barn. If he fails to meet this deadline, I will thereafter immediately bring in a crew of workers to accomplish that project.”

“Mr Holland, by January 31, 2013, will create a cradle no higher than 2 feet and place the keel in it. The keel will then be stored either in the backyard by the freestanding dollhouse type structure or it will be leaned against the house where it is currently residing. If he fails to meet this deadline, I will thereafter immediately bring in a crew of workers to accomplish that project.”

Adams also requested the court approve a “receivership certificate and accompanying deed of trust on the Property in the amount not to exceed $25,000” Adams states that the money will be used to cover “costs” and the ‘costs of the receivership.” The document also states, “actual costs will be far less than $25,000 if Mr. Holland lives up to his agreement as summarized herein.”

As far as what happens after that, Adams says “Mr. Holland plans to spend the next 18 months cleaning and restoring the various wood planks, but has given his word that no assembly of parts will take place during the time covered by the court’s judgment.”

Holland told the Independent that he’s “doing everything he can” and has begun the painstaking process of restoring the ship piece by piece. He says the sorting and cleaning of parts that will be kept and the disposal of those that will not is crucial to that effort.

“I can’t wait until after the New Year,” said Holland. “Then I can finally get back to restoring the ship.”

For now, the fully assembled ship is gone, but important pieces of it remain. What ultimately happens to those pieces, and the ship as a whole, is yet to be determined.

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