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B&B proposal moves to Town Council (drop) Proposed zoning overhaul elicits mixed responses

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B&B proposal moves to Town Council (drop) Proposed zoning overhaul elicits mixed responses

CAPE ELIZABETH — The Ordinance Committee Monday voted to allow bed and breakfast inns in restricted residential areas and began discussion on an overhaul of the Business-A zones on Shore Road and Route 77 south of Town Center.

The B&B proposal passed quickly – the committee had discussed the matter the previous week, but had been unable to vote because one member, David Sherman, was not officially a town councilor at the time.

The proposal, which will go before the Town Council for public hearing early next year, allows B&Bs in residential zones provided the property has frontage on Shore Road or Route 77 and meets size restrictions based on the lot size. It also requires that the inn operator be the property owner and increases the number of allowed rooms from six to nine. B&Bs are already allowed in the Town Center zone.

As recommended to the Town Council by the Ordinance Committee, the zoning change will not allow resident Shawn Tamir to convert his property at 1 Crescent View Ave. into a B&B. Tamir is the only citizen who has expressed interested in opening a B&B in a residential zone, and helped initiate the discussion, which began at the Planning Board in April.

Tamir's property line is just 75 feet from the Route 77 right of way.

There has been much opposition to Tamir's project since the idea went public in the spring, but Tamir said that most of that opposition is not to the inn itself, but rather to the idea that his property be rezoned into the BA district – which Tamir said he, too, does not want.

Tamir is expected to speak about his project at the Town Council meeting Jan. 12, and said he hopes that neighbors supportive of his business plans will make their voices heard. The council in January is expected to set a public hearing on the matter for its Feb. 9 meeting.

SUBHED Business zone overhaul

Following the vote on B&Bs, the Ordinance Committee opened discussion on the zoning overhaul of the BA district. The proposed zoning changes are the first of several packages that seek to implement changes in accordance with the 2007 Comprehensive Plan.

Proposed changes – which were unanimously recommended by the Planning Board after several workshops and a public hearing – will redefine the zone as a neighborhood business district meant to keep commercial uses and site plan designs on a more neighborhoodly scale. The amendments look at parking requirements, setbacks appropriate to promoting pedestrian use, mixing commercial and residential uses by increasing multifamily housing and limiting commercial use to the first floor, and increasing the boundaries of the district where existing businesses are located outside of the zone.

The changes also reduce the wetland setback to 100 feet for properties served by public water and sewer, which opens up some land for use on Route 77, where the BA district extends from just north of Rudy's to just south of the Kettle Cove Dairy.

Uses proposed to be added to the zone include veterinary and medical clinics, gas stations, repair garages, church, government or school uses, day cares, cottage industry manufacturing, and B&Bs. The amendments restrict restaurant use to delis, ice cream parlors, and sit-down restaurants with hour and alcohol serving restrictions. Farm and fish markets are deleted from allowed uses in the proposal.

The most contentious portion of the proposed changes – evidenced by scores of letters and e-mails to Town Hall – is the suggested rezoning of 553 Shore Road from residential to BA. That address directly abuts the BA zone according to zoning maps, although the exact boundary of the zone is under some dispute because of town records which do not include the neighboring property (551 Shore Road) in the BA zone.

Lee Wilson, who owns 553 Shore Road, wants to convert the building such that a small retail shop could be located on the first floor with office space on the second floor and a studio or one bedroom apartment on the third floor

In separate letters and e-mails to Town Hall, residents like Ashley Werner and Liz Monaghan supported Wilson's proposed uses of her Shore Road property.

"I am a huge supporter of business owners who take pride in preserving a sense of place and history by restoring historic structures for their business use," Werner wrote in January. "I do not consider (Wilson's) ideas for commercial use as invasive to the residential feel of our neighborhood."

Monaghan agreed in an e-mail dated Oct. 21, saying that Wilson's plans "would only enhance the area's property values."

"So often our town says no to change," Monaghan continued. Expanding the BA zone to include 553 Shore Road would be appropriate, she said, and "would not adversely effect the area's charm and certainly would be this property's highest and best use."

Residents opposed to the rezoning, including neighbors Ed and Emily Masterson and Steven and Jennifer Haines, are afraid of changing the feel of the neighborhood. In an e-mail dated Nov. 11, the Haineses say that while one or two property zone changes don't matter that much, they "open the door for more rezoning in the future."

The Ordinance Committee Monday barely began to touch on the complex issues involved in the zoning overhaul, and scheduled another meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 8 a.m. The meeting, which is open to the public but not necessarily to public comment, will be in the planning offices on the second floor of Town Hall.

The committee also scheduled a site walk for Friday, Dec. 19, so that members can observe the neighborhood to better consider setback, parking and other changes.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.

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