Harpswell Planning Board OKs event venue, oyster plant

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HARPSWELL — The Planning Board unanimously approved a modified application for seasonal event venue off Harpswell Neck Road, despite continuing parking concerns from at least one neighbor.

The board also OK’d a commercial oyster-packing facility in a wooded area at the end of Bethel Point. The two-story building will include housing for employees of a local conservancy, which is also proposing a new wharf at the location.

Applicants Sylvia Wiley and Chris Muth said the event venue slated for a 7-acre open field off Route 123 won’t require any new structures to be built, but could require access for as many as 100 cars for weddings and receptions.

The field is bisected by Randall Road, a dirt drive down to the ocean, and also from where cars will turn onto the field to park. 

Ronan Wolfsdorf, who lives at the end Randall Road, fought the project when it first came before the board last month, arguing that the potential queue of cars on the road would restrict emergency vehicle access to his cottage. 

He wasn’t satisfied with the solution approved by Planners Sept. 20, which requires Wiley and Muth to widen the first 50 feet of the road by approximately 10 feet to accommodate traffic.

Nearly 90 percent of the rest of the application was approved last month, including conditions that limit the use of the property that were self-imposed by the applicant to mitigate noise and disruption for neighbors.

Wiley said Sept. 22 she hopes to host clients by next summer; before then, she needs to widen the road, put up fencing where cars will be parked, and landscape the field in preparation for large tents and temporary event structures.

Oyster plant

Quahog Bay Conservancy plans to construct their approximately 4,000-square-foot, two-story oyster-packing plant on a 12-acre parcel about 800 feet down from Bethel Point Road, according to Planner Mark Eyerman. 

The conservancy, whose mission to improve the health and quality of Quahog Bay, already has a “garage building” about halfway down the access road to Bethel Point, Eyerman said Friday.

According to the project description, the new building will allow the organization to bring oysters to shore, and then clean, store, and ship them off the property.

The proposed housing would support the range of services provided by the organization.

“They do things like trash pick-up, clean, boat sewage pump-outs, and a whole range of activities,” Eyerman explained. “They have interns or other people who work with them, so this is intended to provide employee accommodations – so while people are there they have a place to live.”

The project is far from any abutters and drew no public comment at the Sept. 20 review. The wharf proposed at the same location will require a separate application process.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.