New businesses for downtown
The Boothbay Harbor planning board took up three applications Aug. 8. Two proposed new businesses downtown. Nick Ullo and Dan Pangburn, owners of a soon-to-be brewery in the heart of Boothbay Harbor, Footbridge Brewery, brought an application to open the brewery with on-site production, tastings and retail sales of growlers, pints and kegs at 25 Granary Way.
Ullo explained no food would be produced on site, but they are thinking of letting people bring their own food and hope to partner with area restaurants in the future to provide food. Pangburn added, waste would be removed the same day due to the smell of brewed hops. Byproduct will be donated to farms, they said.
An announcement that the brewery would be open and brewing year round garnered applause from the room. Without deliberation or conditions, the application was granted unanimously.
Jennie Jones asked to open a restaurant at 25 Union St. in the building that formerly housed Amore Bistro.
“I know that we had an issue with being over the water,” said Jones. “But that we are going to be fencing off … because we don't want a deck that big anyway.”
After some discussion, the board determined the designated parking across the road would fulfill the required one parking spot per three seats in a restaurant of the Downtown Business District. Jones added there are also four spots alongside the road. Three of those will be handicapped parking.
“And this, too, is going to be a year round business, just so you know,” said Jones.
The audience applauded and cheered again. The application was granted unanimously, with no conditions.
Zander Shaw of Knickerbocker Group spoke on behalf of Linekin Bay Holdings, LLC on its application to reconstruct a nonconforming building in the shoreland zone. In June, Shaw brought the project before the board in a pre-application discussion and the board suggested he look at whether or not the building, known as mahawie, is in the best spot.
The proposal that came back moves the building about 14 feet west and two feet north away from the shore. The building will still be nonconforming, but meet the criteria, said Chair Bill Hamblen.
The board unanimously granted the application with a condition set forth by member Tom Churchill – that an engineered stormwater runoff plan pass the desk of Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith.
East side zoning
Hamblen announced the board received a response from the Department of Environmental Protection's Colin Clark on recommendations the board put together after getting Clark’s feedback.
“It wasn't the response we expected,” said Hamblen. “It is not overwhelming, but there are a number of things the DEP would like us to examine further and perhaps to change.”
Some of the changes Clark suggested: Exclude setbacks of water-dependent lots from the data justifying the 25-foot setback the board has recommended; make setbacks for parking 50 feet rather than the board's recommendation of 25 feet; exclude Carousel Marina condominiums in the data for determining square-footage-per-use – Clark suggested recommending 10,000 square feet per use rather than the board's original recommendation of 7,260 square feet per use.
In addition to suggested changes to review processes, Clark also recommended the board make sure all recommendations meet the state’s DEP Guidelines for Municipal Shoreland Zoning Ordinances.
Boothbay Harbor resident John O'Connell asked if the town lawyer has yet evaluated the recommendations.
“And specifically the east side is currently supported by … the comprehensive plan,” said O’Connell. “I don't know whether the town attorney has addressed that particular issue.”
Hamblen said while the board is focusing on the most appropriate set of recommendations, there is an issue with the comprehensive plan and the lawyer has been working on it. He expects the board will hear from the lawyer before long and has also asked the lawyer to provide a written evaluation on the board's recommendations. The board hopes to get that evaluation within a few weeks.
East side resident John Seitzer vocalized his concern over the language of justifications communicated to the DEP.
“I found some wording in there that I thought was extremely maybe biased or confusing,” said Seitzer. “In the first page and the first paragraph of the zoning ordinance amendments … talks about 'the preexisting hotels have languished, unable to justify investment in a district where there are nine conforming uses.' Languished? That's some pretty strong language. You're saying that they're failing – is Brown Brothers failing? I mean, somebody must have thought they were because they wrote it down.”
Alternate Jon Dunsford reminded Seitzer that Tim Brown was a participant in the advisory process and supports the concept of the need for investment in the east side. Hamblen added, he believes there is a valid opinion that investment in the east side has not moved ahead due to zoning restrictions. Seitzer disagreed, stating that $10 million has been invested in one property alone – Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort – under current restrictions.
East side property owner Michael Fritz said Oceanside's development was possible because the developer, Paul Coulombe, who was not mentioned by name, is independently wealthy.
Said Fritz, “If one of us were to try and develop that property, we could neither get a bank loan nor insurance because the property can't be insured and it can't be financed by a bank because it can't be rebuilt if there's a loss because it's nonconforming.”
The board will hold a workshop at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23 to further discuss changes to the zoning recommendations.