SOUTH PORTLAND — A proposal to move a coffee shop from Portland’s West End to Meetinghouse Hill could be a step closer after the Planning Board holds a hearing on rezoning a section of Cottage Road.
During a Town Council workshop July 24, Gail Bruzgo, who lives in Cape Elizabeth and owns Omi’s Coffee Shop at 28 Brackett St. in Portland, told the council she wants to move her business to 372 Cottage Road.
A deed filed with the city shows Bruzgo purchased the former Flynn & Co. Real Estate building May 8.
The Planning Board will hold a hearing Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. at City Hall on a proposal for expanded business uses by Bruzgo and owners of six other Cottage Road properties between Vincent Street and Pillsbury Street.
Omi’s has been in business in a Portland residential neighborhood since 2013 and operates weekdays from 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The shop opens half an hour later on weekends.
In her application Bruzgo said she plans “to renovate and maintain this new addition to the neighborhood.” She will renovate the exterior with new paint, lighting and landscaping, but there will be no outside construction.
Bruzgo indicated there would be on-site parking for up to nine vehicles, and the shop will serve specialty teas, coffees, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and smoothies.
The first floor of the proposed coffee shop will include service and retail space and a second floor will be dedicated to additional seating for about 20 people.
In all, the city could rezone the properties at 352, 362, 366, 372, 374, 376, and 378 Cottage Road from Transitional Residential, which allows residences and offices, to a new zoning district to be called the Meetinghouse Hill Community Commercial District.
The council workshop came after Bruzgo and two co-applicants, Ed Rowe, who owns 352 Cottage Road, and Nancy Thompson, who owns 362 Cottage Road, submitted a request to the Planning Department on June 30 to rezone the three properties on Cottage Road.
In the past applications were first presented to the Planning Board, but city officials wanted to change that process.
In a memo to the council, City Manager Scott Morelli said, “Due to council’s recent aversion to these types of ad hoc rezoning requests – and the derision directed at city staff by some members of the public when it appears we are advocating on behalf of an applicant/developer – we have decided to change this process.”
“Now, applicants will appear directly before City Council to provide their rationale for wanting a zoning change prior to making an appearance before the Planning Board,” Morelli said. “Staff will still be available to provide technical assistance and answer questions but will no longer be taking the lead in requesting these changes to council on behalf of applicants (at least for the time being).”
The Planning Board will be tasked with making a recommendation to the City Council, which can then place the proposal on a workshop agenda.
Gail Bruzgo of Cape Elizabeth purchased 372 Cottage Road in South Portland, with plans to move Omi’s Coffee Shop there from Brackett Street in Portland. (Google image)
Omi’s Coffee Shop, at 28 Brackett Street, Portland, may be headed to Cottage Road in South Portland. (Google image)