Pine Point sale nears without sign-off from Scarborough council

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SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors held workshop discussions Wednesday on criteria they’d need satisfied to approve proposals at Pine Point and Piper Shores. 

In an initial workshop last month, fishermen and waterfront workers expressed concerns about the pending sale of Pine Point Fisherman’s Co-op. Most were wary that under new ownership the property would eventually cease to be a working waterfront.

Susan Bayley Clough and Vincent Clough have an agreement to buy the wholesale seafood dealer and Rising Tide restaurant from Gary Johnson and Tim Staples. The couple own and operate Bayley’s Lobster Pound and the nearby Bait Shed and The Garage BBQ restaurants. They also live a few doors down from the co-op.

The town has assessed the property at about $611,000. Bayley Clough declined to disclose what they’ve offered to pay for the property; the sale isn’t scheduled to close until Feb. 26.

A 1964 agreement in which Scarborough conveyed the property at Town Landing to the Pine Point Cooperative Association – now the Pine Point Fisherman’s Co-op – requires the town to consent to any sale of the property and approve any mortgage in excess of $125,000.

The Cloughs want to increase the mortgage to $900,000. The agreement also stipulates that only the front and back of the building may be expanded.

Bayley Clough said their intention is to use the property in the same manner as it has been used historically – as a lobster-buying station and restaurant – and expand services to include a buying station for steamers and other local aquaculture.

Unlike last month’s workshop, when several fishermen expressed skepticism about the pending sale, aA half dozen service industry workers from Scarborough and South Portland took the podium Wednesday night to support the Cloughs. 

Josh Cohen, who works at the Bait Shed, said he’s lived near the landing on Iris Drive his entire life. He praised the Cloughs for their dedication to the wellbeing of their employees, fair wages, and quality of service.

“They’ve helped put Scarborough on the map,” Cohen said.

Travis Turner of the Coastal Waters and Harbor Advisory Committee came with a list of “vital” infrastructure requirements the committee and waterfront workers would like to see if the deal moves forward. Those include continued year-round onsite buying operations, providing the capacity to store at least 75 bait barrels, and assuring that commercial pier access will be not hindered by restaurant activity. 

Councilors heeded Turner’s appeal; many emphasized the importance of access to the pier and maintaining a bait cooler. 

Councilor Shawn Babine, however, said he opposes the town’s interference in free commerce by dictating any of the Cloughs’ purchasing operations.

“It’s outside of the scope of the council,” he said. “The fact is, you go to whatever the best price is from a buyer’s perspective.” 

Councilors opposed another of Turner’s requests: giving fishermen the right to refuse the next transfer of ownership. That right should lie solely with the council, councilors said.

Town Manager Tom Hall said the town will work with the Cloughs, Johnson and Staples to see which of Turner’s requests they could fulfill without disrupting the sale.

The date the request will come before the council for action is yet to be determined, but Hall said he assumes they’d like to work through the matter as soon as possible, given the closing date later this month.

Piper Shores

Piper Shores retirement community is seeking approval for 52 new independent living units at 5 Dorado Drive, across the street from the existing 138-acre facility at 15 Piper Road.

The community has a waiting list for residents and a shortage of buildable land. 

The expansion requires an amendment to a 1997 contract zone agreement, which allowed the original community to be built in the town’s Rural Farm Zone, which limits development to one housing unit for every 2 acres. 

Piper Shores agreed to buy the 45-acre Dorado Drive property in July 2017 from David and Patricia MacDonald. The agreement includes a 24-month deadline to reach all necessary terms, including town approval of zoning changes to complete the project. 

The council has sole authority to authorize contract zones. Such zones are intended to allow reasonable uses that would not have been permitted by current zoning regulations, but remain consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and compatible with uses in the area. 

Contract zones must also provide greater public benefit than if projects were built under current zoning classifications.

As proposed, the development would include 16 duplexes, 28 apartments with a common clubhouse, and eight single-family homes. The application is for 61 units, which would allow the potential for future growth. 

However, it was council consensus Wednesday that, if approved, the density should be capped at 52 units and the additional space where another nine units could go, towards the back of the property abutting a trail network and Camp Ketcha, should be preserved as conserved land with some added parking for trail access. 

Councilors also said they’d like to see affordable housing units included – rather than only a required $122,000 fee for the town’s affordable housing fund, contributed sidewalk improvements on Route 77, and assurance that development would not severely impact traffic and water quality in the area. 

A few residents spoke in favor of the proposal, including Tom Lewis, who lives in one of Piper Shore’s units on Drake Lane.

“Piper Shores stands as a model of corporate citizenship that few can (achieve),” he said. 

Councilor Paul Johnson said the fact that Piper Shores provides housing to people was enough to satisfy the public benefit for him. What Johnson said he’s having trouble getting past, however, is the negative impact it could have on abutting neighborhoods. 

Since the project was proposed, residents of Acorn Lane and Newcomb Ridge Road, which flank Dorado Drive on either side, have expressed opposition. Some residents of Stoneridge Drive have objected, too. 

Donald Simoneau, of Newcomb Ridge Road, said he has no doubt Piper Shores is a “wonderful place,” but thinks it should expand somewhere that’s already zoned for the use.

“This is where we live,” he said. “We thought we were protected (by the RF Zone).”

Councilors said they’ll continue to work with Piper Shores to find middle ground between its proposal and the needs of abutters.

Hall noted that Piper Shores is also teed up to undergo a site plan review, but postponed its request to come before the Planning Board last month in hopes of nailing down contract zone amendment approval before going through the planning process. 

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

The Scarborough Town Council on Wednesday discussed the pending sale of the Pine Point Fisherman’s Co-op and Rising Tide restaurant.

Councilors also addressed what they’d like to see included in a contract zone proposal from the Piper Shores retirement community to add 52 units at 5 Dorado Drive.

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