Pine Point condo conversion plan gets initial OK in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — The Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday enthusiastically approved a proposal by the owners of the Lighthouse Inn at Pine Point plan to turn their hotel into condominiums.

“I think you guys have done a great job,” Mark Maroon, chairman of the ZBA, told brothers Nicholas and Peter Truman, who own the inn.

The Trumans hope to convert the business from a seasonal 22-unit hotel into a 10-unit townhouse-style condo complex. A previous proposal would have created 12 units, but after hearing concerns about density and a lack of on-site parking, the Trumans combined units to reduce the number.

The footprint of the hotel wouldn’t change, but a third floor would be built inside a dormered roof, bringing each three-story condo to about 1,100 square feet.

The Trumans have said that after decades of family ownership of the inn, they’re ready to get out of the hotel business. Shifting from a commercial use to a residential one would move the building closer to compliance with Pine Point’s residential zone, but the size of the project falls outside current rules and required approval from the ZBA.

“The only concerns about this project (at the Planning Board meeting) were related to density and parking,” said Gene Libby, the attorney representing the hotel owners. “The Trumans heard those concerns and made adequate changes.”

Unlike the reception the Trumans received from the ZBA, some Pine Point residents turned out to decry the plan, which they said still tries to cram too many units into less than an acre of property.

“To imagine there would be 10 units in this footprint is absurd,” said Mo Erickson, a resident of Pine Point. She said she is concerned the condos would become serial rentals and attract raucous residents.

“It would be like the Lighthouse Inn Block Party Condominium,” she said.

On that point, there was some concern from the ZBA, too. Most of the properties on Pine Point are rented at some point in the year, but Maroon expressed concern about the effects of serial renting of the inn.

Though he said he “really wanted” to support the proposal, he said he’d only give it the thumbs up if the Trumans agreed to follow Fannie Mae condominium guidelines. That would limit the number of times a unit can be rented per year, and prohibit individuals from owning more than one unit in the property.

Maroon said he was taking such a strong stance because allowing a condo owner to rent their property week-by-week would effectively make the Lighthouse Inn a “condotel,” which he said drives down the value of the property and creates a “blight” on the neighborhood.

The Trumans agreed. “The type of places we’re building will attract homeowners,” Nicholas Truman said.

The Zoning Board ruled that changing from a seasonal 22-unit hotel to a year-round 10-unit condominium would not substantially increase the intensity of use at the site, or negatively impact traffic in the area.

“The big concern was density and parking,” board member Martin Macisso said. “That’s been addressed … I think it’s a very attractive improvement.”

With ZBA approval in hand, the Trumans can move forward with renovations to the property. But first, the Planning Department staff will have to examine the plan to determine whether the buildup triggers site plan review.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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Owners of the Lighthouse Inn at Pine Point received approval Wednesday from the Scarborough Zoning Board of Approval to turn their 22-unit hotel into 10 townhouse-style condominiums.

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