Cape Elizabeth sets limits for special events at Ram Island Farm

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Planning Board unanimously granted conditional approval for a special events facility at Wentworth Lodge at Ram Island Farm.

The board on Tuesday, June 21, held a public hearing on Sprague Corp.’s proposal for the Winters Lane property, and approved it with five conditions. The corporation must provide proof the conditions were met to the Town Planner before any events can be held, the Planning Board told John Greene, Ram Island Farm property manager.

The first condition is that the special events facility does not allow Sprague to host special events inside the Wentworth Lodge building. As specified in the application, the events, mainly weddings, would be held under large tents.

Another condition is that no permanent structures can be constructed for special events, and tents must be taken down the day of the event. Also, existing vegetation within 30 feet of the side and front yard setbacks may not be removed. The board said the vegetation provides a buffer to surrounding residences.

The board also asked that Sprague’s plan be modified to specify that a minimum of one portable toilet per 40 guests is provided instead of one per 50 guests.

The Town Council in November approved a special events ordinance that regulates the rental of residential property for private events and parties. The use of residential property as a business for fee-paying functions was not previously allowed in town.

The question came up after town officials became aware that Sprague had been renting Wentworth Lodge for weddings several times a year.

The special events facility ordinance allows property owners in the A, B and C residential zoning districts to have “small-scale, hospitality venues” on their property if they have at least 15 acres. 

Other restrictions created by the Planning Board and ordinance committee include a maximum of 12 events a year; no amplified music after 10 p.m.; no more than 275 people, including staff, in attendance, and site plans must be renewed every three years.

The council in November also approved an amendment to the zoning map that allows Sprague to continue to rent property for events. Proposals for specific facilities still need to be presented to the Planning Board.

The Planning Board on May 17 deemed the corporation’s application complete, and held a site walk on May 24.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.