SCARBOROUGH — The Planning Board gave advisory approval March 15 to the town’s plan for a small park and beach access path at Pine Point Beach.
The plan is part of a larger project that included a land swap between the town and the Lighthouse Inn, which was completed in late December 2009.
Owners of the Lighthouse Inn went before the board several months ago and their plans to build a parking lot, fence and do some landscaping work were also approved.
“It’s a done deal,” Scarborough Town Manager Thomas Hall said this week. He said he would present the plan to the Town Council for final approval on April 7.
Hall said he plans to split the project into two phases, the first of which would include installing the cement walkway and curb. The second phase would have what he called the “creature comforts,” including a split rail fence, landscaping and other design details.
While it may be Planning Board-approved, funding for the project is still up in the air.
There is a road construction project in the area that may come in under budget, and funds left over from that project could be applied to the first phase of the Pine Point project, Hall said. The funding for the second phase has yet to be identified.
“Hopefully they’re going to be able to do what they’re purporting to do,” said Judy Mushial, a member of the Pine Point Residents’ Association, which opposed the initial land swap. “I think on paper it’s wonderful, but I don’t know. They’re not going to fire a teacher and put in bushes, I don’t think.”
Mushial also expressed concern that the project would be under construction during the busiest time of the year, making an already busy street even more congested.
“We realize we must have sensitivity to the seasons. We’ll be needing to get work done before the summer and may need to push some of it back to the fall,” Hall said.
Other residents believe the town was shortchanged in the land swap, and that public access to the beach will be threatened.
“They’re ruining this place,” said Judy Shirk, who is also a member of the Pine Point Residents’ Association. “I don’t know one person who was in favor of this.”
Shirk is worried that the plan will narrow an already narrow road, making it difficult for trucks to make the corner and causing congestion at the beach drop-off point.
“We had a 50-foot roadway. What we’ve got now is a 10-foot path,” she said. “They just gave it away.”
Last December, Robert Baizley, a resident of Dunstan Landing Road, gave the state Department of Environmental Protection a list of 14 shoreland zoning guidelines he believed the town had violated when designing the plan. He said he has been in regular contact with the department since he made the request.
“We’re still going back and forth,” he said.
Some of Baizley’s concerns included violations of the so-called 20/40 rule, which requires that less than 20 percent of land in a shoreland zone be built upon, with less than 40 percent dedicated to landscaping. The proposed park, which would include stone benches, a bicycle rack, feet washing area, and fences, is nearly 100 percent landscaped.
“It’s a real shame,” Baizley said. “It’s not going to be in compliance with the rules and regulations. They didn’t have enough land to do this proposal.”
Hall said the town would apply for permits as necessary, but that in previous discussions with the DEP, he was told no permits would be required.
“It’s our impression it does not (require permits),” he said, “but we will research that further.”
Baizley suggested the DEP may have been incorrect in its recommendation and said that he is concerned the town might open itself up to claims or lawsuits if it violates the state’s and its own shoreland zoning laws.
He also said he is also concerned about a proposal to plant non-native species, something he believes can be easily remedied by planting native grasses and other approved species.
“Let’s make sure we’re putting the right stuff in,” he said.
Hall said that he specifically asked the landscape architect to look into Baizley’s request.
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.