Falmouth planners still wrestle with Rivalries traffic, parking

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FALMOUTH — Despite a scaled back proposal from the developers, members of the Planning Board and public are still expressing concerns over parking and traffic for a proposed bar and restaurant off Clearwater Drive.

On Tuesday night, the latest preliminary proposal for Rivalries came before the Planning Board for a second sketch plan review. Civil engineer Ross Cudlitz said the proposal is now a single-story bar and restaurant. He explained that because there would only be about 125 seats available inside, only 52 parking spaces would be required.

To accommodate that, Cudlitz said there will be 24 on-site parking spaces, 20 additional leased spots in an adjacent lot in Tidewater Village, and 20 more shared spots in another lot. The proposal also includes nine parallel parking spots on Farm Gate Road.

Members of the public mostly addressed safety issues regarding traffic along Farm Gate Road.

Farm Gate Road resident Janet Hutcheson said she was nearly hit head-on by a car while she was driving on the road. “The curve is extremely dangerous,” Hutcheson told the Board. “I have serious concerns with Rivalries bringing more traffic to the area.”

Tom Emery of Foreside Architects, hired by the Tidewater Farm Homeowners Association, said the nine parking spots along Farm Gate Road are not reasonable for several reasons, including destruction of “the sense of entry on Farm Gate Road.”

Lance Meader, who owns Portland-based Rivalries, said it is not fair to single out Rivalries as the only contributor to increased traffic on the road, because other businesses are moving in and other lots nearby are zoned for restaurant use. He said Farm Gate Road is a public road, so technically anyone can park on either side of the road, and drive on it.

“You can’t pinpoint us,” Meader said.

The issues of parking and traffic are not new to the Rivalries debate, nor are they new to the Planning Board. This was the third time the proposal has come before the board, and the Town Council in March backed the requested zoning changes sought by the applicants.

However, parking and traffic remained issues for Planning Board Chairman Jay Chace and board member Thomas McKeon. Both cited the need for a traffic analysis from the applicants.

“There’s going to be increased traffic on Farm Gate Road,” McKeon said. “… We need to hear from the professionals.”

Both Meader and Cudlitz said there are more than enough public parking spaces in the area, especially since Rivalries would operate at different hours than the surrounding businesses.

Board members Christopher Hickey, William Benzing, and Rudy Israel found parking and traffic less of an issue.

“We have beaten this traffic and parking issue to death,” Israel said.

The next time the Rivalries proposal appears before the Planning Board, it will be as a formal application.

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

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.