Cape planners back town center project

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Planning Board on Tuesday approved a proposal for a medical office building and apartment complex at 12 Hill Way.

In addition, planners completed a site plan review of a facility at Ram Island Farm.

The application from the owners of Cape Chiropractic and Acupuncture was approved with conditions at the meeting, and the owners must complete several tasks before they can get a building permit.

Amber and Zev Myerowitz, owners of the business at 2 Davis Point Lane, want to construct two, three-story buildings on Hill Way, with a connector between them. Each building – one nearly 3,800 square feet and the other more than 2,400 square feet – will have their medical business on the first floor and apartments above.

The project proposes 10 townhouse-style apartments, with six in one building and four in the other.

The Planning Board on April 25 discussed the project for three hours before tabling it because of concerns regarding the design of the building. The concerns were all addressed Tuesday, and some were made conditions of approval.

The conditions include an open space impact fee of $13,458; ensuring that the  exterior lighting is not too bright; and installing downward-facing or ground-based lighting on the building’s sign. The plans must show the location of a proposed generator and the option of using plywood on the exterior of the building must be taken off the table.

The board also addressed neighbors’ concerns about potential tenants and whether they could store items on the balconies. Zev Myerowitz said it will require “good faith from both parties” that neither his tenants nor the neighbors will leave storage items in plain view.

“As multi-unit housing on the high end, it’s in our best interest to project a very high standard of living,” he said.

The Myerowitzes bought the 2.1-acre property in 2014 for $915,000. They have subdivided it into three lots, and the project is being planned for the largest lot. A farmhouse sits on one of the other lots; the third is undeveloped.

The project falls within the town center zone and meets town center zoning ordinance and design standards. The project also fulfills the Town Council’s goal of improving the area around Hill Way, and the Town Center Planning Committee’s desire to have a mixed-use building in the town center.

Planning Board Chairman Peter Curry said he appreciates the cooperation of the Myerowitzes and their willingness to consider the neighbors’ concerns.

“I’m really impressed by the work that went into the landscaping and buffering,” Curry said. “I think you took seriously the comments of the neighborhood and I think you’ve come up with a very attractive plan.”

Special event facility

The Sprague Corporation is proposing a special events facility at Wentworth Lodge on Winters Lane at Ram Island Farm.

The Planning Board on Tuesday deemed the application complete and scheduled a June 21 public hearing to discuss it. The board also scheduled a site walk for May 24 at 5:30 p.m.

The Town Council in November approved a special events ordinance that regulates 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 Corp. has 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 the property is a minimum of 15 acres. 

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

John Greene, the property manager of Ram Island Farm, presented the proposal for the facility on Tuesday. The events, mainly weddings, would also be held under large tents, Greene said, and no permanent structure is being proposed. He said no additional landscaping or lighting is being proposed, either.

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.