Falmouth council approval is Rivalries' final hurdle

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FALMOUTH — It took almost a year since it was proposed, but a planned restaurant behind Wal-Mart received Planning Board approval.

But there’s still some work to do before ground can be broken for Rivalries at Farm Gate Road and Clearwater Drive.

Architect Michael Hays, of Grant Hays Associates, said the project also received state approval from the fire marshal’s office Nov. 3, the same day the Planning Board acted. He said a building permit is still required.

Steve and Tammy Doten, who own the land where the restaurant will be built, declined to comment Tuesday. The Dotens, who own Doten’s Construction, will also construct the building, according to Hays, and will seek the building permit from the town.

Because the Dotens are the owners of the parcel known as Tidewater Village Lot 4, Rivalries owners Lance and Amy Meader will be leasing the building. The Meaders, who were not available for comment, operate the Rivalries restaurant at 10 Cotton St. in Portland, and the menu will be the same at the Falmouth outpost.

Justin Brown, the town’s code enforcement officer, said his office has not seen an application for a building permit, adding it had been months since he last heard from the applicants. But he did say the building permit is the next stage.

“I suspect they will be in for the permit relatively soon,” Brown said.

Brown said because the plan is for a single-story restaurant, he doesn’t expect the permitting process to take longer than a week to two. He said it depends on how complete the application is, and if the applicants have met conditions from the Planning Board. Brown said the permitting process is more simple to complete than the planning process.

Senior Town Planner Ethan Croce said the Rivalries applicants will need to return to the Town Council to be allowed use of Hat Trick Drive, which is a town-owned road. Additionally, he said there are a number of conditions of approval that must be met.

Some of these include ensuring all off-site parking spaces are fully constructed and available for use, and adding pedestrian-scaled lighting on Farm Gate Road. Rivalries will also have to go through site plan approval in the event more seats are added to the restaurant.

Brown said once conditions have been met and the building permit has been issued, the applicants will be able to start construction whenever they want.

“From my perspective, I can’t think of anything else that would hold them up,” Brown said.

The restaurant, which will be about 4,600 square feet, will have 125 indoor seats and an additional 32 outdoor seasonal seats. Fifty-three parking spaces are required by ordinance based on the number of seats, and the applicants have said there will be more than enough parking, with 25 on-site spots, 20 leased spots in an adjacent lot in Tidewater Village, and 20 shared spots in another lot.

A parking study commissioned by the applicants stated up to 35 public parking spots could be used on the north side of Clearwater Drive, with 25 parallel spots on the south side, and seven spaces on Hat Trick Drive. The proposal also includes nine parking spots on Farm Gate Road.

When the proposal first came before the Town Council in late 2014, it generated almost instant backlash from the residents of the adjacent Tidewater Farm neighborhood.

Robert Isler, a member of the Tidewater Farm Homeowners Association, said it was “disheartening” to see both the Town Council and Planning Board fail to enforce the “vision, guarantees and protections” of the homeowners included in Tidewater Master Plan and Design Guidelines, which created the mixed-use neighborhood.

“As homeowners, we understand that commercial development is part of the Master Plan,” Isler said. “We presented what we thought were compelling responses to the Rivalries proposal.”

But it appears the fight by the Homeowners Association is now over.

“We’ve now got to put this behind us and move forward,” Isler said. “We hope that Rivalries will be the good neighbor they said they wanted to be.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

The site for a proposed sports bar and restaurant expansion is at the corner of Clearwater Drive and Farm Gate Road.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.