Board delays decision on Scarborough Beach parking lot

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SCARBOROUGH — The fate of a proposed 500-car parking lot and beach access area on Black Point Road was delayed late Monday night when the Zoning Board of Appeals tabled a decision until March 9.

The move came after a lengthy presentation by representatives of Sprague Corp., the owners of the property, as well as opposition arguments presented by lawyers for neighbors.

The presentation included mock-ups of the proposed project, which would include a three-lane paved entrance and exit with a toll gate; a grass-covered gravel parking lot and picnic facilities, and improvements to an existing boardwalk that leads to the beach.

“We want to create new public access to Scarborough Beach by creating a new parking lot on our 64 acres on Black Point Road,” Seth Sprague, president of Sprague Corp., said.

Landscape architect Terrance DeWan explained that Sprague Corp. owns 1,700 feet of beachfront next to Scarborough Beach State Park, and that this would be a new public beach recreation area.

DeWan also addressed traffic concerns from nearby residents, and cited the 50-car queue that the proposed driveway would hold as a possible solution to some of their concerns. He added that much of the property now in agricultural use will remain that way.

“This is developing 7 1/2 acres of land,” DeWan said, comparing that to the 8.9 acres developed by neighboring Atlantic Housing. “Most of the land will remain in agricultural use.”

More than 100 people turned out for the meeting that lasted almost until midnight. Many spoke against the proposed 500-space parking lot that would be constructed on a privately owned parcel of land adjacent to the existing Scarborough Beach State Park. 

“I lived next to a parking lot at Higgins Beach for nine years. I can tell you what it’s like to live next to a parking lot,” said Russ Kivatisky, who purchased land abutting the proposed Scarborough Beach parking lot a year ago. “The noise, the odor – and that was only 60 parking spaces. … Imagine that this is a lot the size of the Hannaford lot, but bigger by a 100 cars. You’re all invited to my house, you can play with my daughters in the back yard and imagine there’s a Hannaford parking lot right there.”

One of the main arguments against the parking lot was that it was not an acceptable use or even a special exception for the residential farming district, where the lot is proposed.

“The critical issue is whether this is a permitted use at all, whether this is a core use,” attorney Natalie Burns of Jensen, Baird, Gardiner and Henry said. “If it’s not a core use, then board doesn’t have jurisdiction over the issue.”

Even if the ZBA approves the special exception, the project will have to be approved by the Planning Board, state Department of Environmental Protection and Maine Department of Transportation.

“We appreciate everything we’ve heard tonight,” said attorney Richard Shinay of Drummond Woodsum, who represents Sprague Corp. “We take your comments very seriously. We’re going to go back, take a look, and see where we can go from here.”

The ZBA tentatively agreed to let attendees speak in a public forum about any changes to the proposed plan at the March 9 meeting.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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