Falmouth sports pub sketch plan weathers scrutiny

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FALMOUTH — The proposed expansion of a Portland-based sports pub took another step forward Tuesday night, when the Planning Board conducted a sketch plan review for the restaurant planned in Tidewater Village.

Questions about parking for the project, on land along Clearwater Drive between Hat Trick Drive and Farm Gate Road, continued to permeate the discussion, although a vote on the proposal could happen as soon as next month.

Representatives from Rivalries, including architect Michael Hays of Grant Hays Associates, civil engineer Ross Cudlits of AE&D, and the owners of the business, Lance and Amy Meador, attended the crowded meeting.

Also present were some of the proposal’s most vocal opponents, residents of the mixed-use housing community in which it might be built.

However, Tuesday night’s meeting lacked the usual back and forth between opponents and proponents of the restaurant. Instead, only two members of the public spoke during the public comment portion: Tidewater Homeowners Association President Clifford Gilpin, and Tom Emery of Foreside Architects, the architect hired by the association.

The original intent of the lot where the restaurant is proposed was for commercial office use, and Gilpin said a restaurant will mean a very different kind of use, with longer hours and weekend activity.

“We continue to have major concerns on the impact to the neighborhood,” he said.

Chief among them, according to Gilpin and Emery, are parking, noise, lights, and visual impact of the restaurant and whatever buffering would go up if the project proceeds.

“The project has changed at every meeting,” Emery said, referring to the size of the building, number of seats, and number of parking spots. He said the association is asking for more clarification about how many seats will be inside the building and the calculations for parking requirements based on those numbers.

Hays said the building will have two floors, plus a basement, with a total of 175 seats inside. The first floor would have a dining area and a bar, with space upstairs for functions. Additionally, there would be 32 outdoor seats on a screened patio.

The building would have a roughly 8,000-square-foot footprint — which was scaled back from a larger, initial design — and would likely have its front oriented towards Hat Trick Drive.

Hays said his group is working with town staff on issues like buffering and fencing to see what types of materials would be best, but assured residents there would be ample buffering.

Hays said there would be 22 dedicated parking spots on the property, plus 40 more satellite spots; 20 of those spots would be designated for the restaurant, and 20 would be shared publicly with an adjacent lot.

Additionally, Cudlits said they are proposing to expand the shoulder of Farm Gate Road to accommodate 10 public, parallel parking spots.

“Parking will be a real concern,” board member Thomas McKeon said. “If you’re going to get my vote, you’ll need to persuade me parking will work.”

He also said parking and traffic would be serious issues on Farm Gate Road.

When asked by board Chairman Jay Chace about the legality of the parallel parking spots, senior town planner Ethan Croce said since Farm Gate Road is a public street, public works and its director, Jay Reynolds, would have to sign off on parallel parking.

Croce said Reynolds had indicated he was “conceptually OK” with it, which drew some groans from the crowd.

Hays said since many of the surrounding buildings are commercial offices that only operate on weekdays, public parking spots would likely be available when Rivalries needs them.

Board members indicated they may use their own traffic and parking engineer to look at the proposal after the developers’ application has been submitted. Hays said they will be hiring their own as well. Tidewater residents had a similar study done before the proposal first came before the Planning Board in March.

In the meantime, the developers will work on their application for site plan review by the board. Croce said since this is not a subdivision, if the completed application is submitted by the next meeting, theoretically the board could vote to approve it. 

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.