SCARBOROUGH — Despite overwhelming public opposition to the project, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously Wednesday to grant a special exception for a new, 370-space parking lot and recreation area on private land near Scarborough Beach.
The plan now moves to the Planning Board review process.
After nearly four months of lengthy meetings, deliberations, public hearings and delays, ZBA members said they were satisfied the applicant, Sprague Corp., met the burden of proof required by ordinance.
“This is the least offensive use I can think of other than its current use,” board Chairman Mark Maroon said.
Every speaker during the public hearing opposed the plan.
“We left Higgins Beach to get away from parking lots,” said Russ Kivatisky, who said he lived next door to the Higgins Beach parking lot for nine years and now lives next door to Sprague’s proposed parking lot. “We moved into a rural farm zone. I never in my wildest dreams imagined a parking lot of this intensity next door.”
Other speakers addressed air quality, traffic and fences to prevent trespassing, as well as an old historic village that existed on the site and has not yet been excavated.
“Frankly, we’re all scared of the consequences of this plan,” Prouts Neck resident Bob Hunnewell said. “That’s why we’re here, why we’ve invested so much time and money for legal costs. This is a total misuse of the ordinance.”
After the speakers, Maroon said it was the ZBA’s role to determine if the applicant meets the requirements of the special exception, not whether the plan is popular.
“There are guidelines we have to follow,” he said. “The board should not make its decision based on the public opposition … nor can it make a decision about whether it would be good or bad for the community.”
The board specifically addressed issues of noise, odor and traffic, unanimously approving that the parking lot would not have an adverse impact on the neighborhood, environment or abutters.
“I don’t know who they’re looking after here,” said Libby Gordon, who owns property near the proposed parking lot. “It’s sad. There are so few pristine places in Maine. I guess pristine beaches will be a thing of the past.”
The board also voted unanimously to uphold Code Enforcement Officer David Grysk’s appoval of construction of a home on property abutting the historic Winslow Homer House on Prouts Neck.
The Portland Museum of Art, which owns the Winslow Homer House, appealed the building permit issued to the Doris Homer Trust property at 3 Winslow Homer Road. The museum sought to maintain its easement for access to a septic system on the trust’s property.
Abutters to the property also appealed the code enforcement officer’s decision, reasoning the lot does not have the 100 feet of contiguous frontage required by ordinance.
Both appeals were denied and the building permit upheld.
The Winslow Homer Studio, where the artist worked, is in a converted carriage house and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966.