Preemptive parking ban sought near new Falmouth restaurant

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FALMOUTH — Town councilors on Monday renewed a debate over parking for a restaurant being built behind Wal-Mart near Tidewater Village.

While no action was taken, councilors were divided about whether a parking ban should be enacted on Farm Gate Road, which abuts Rivalries restaurant.

The issue, which was assigned to the ordinance committee’s work plan for the year, was introduced by Chairwoman Karen Farber, who said she was approached by a concerned resident.

“From a language standpoint, a ban is pretty straight forward,” said Farber, who made a failed bid to have staff craft ordinance language for a parking ban to be introduced at a September council meeting.

The town has several streets where parking is prohibited.

On Andrews Avenue, for example, which connects mainland Falmouth to Mackworth Island, a seasonal ban is in effect from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. from May through October. A similar seasonal ban is in place on the east side of Squidere Lane from the intersection with Depot Road to the Blackstone cul-de-sac.

The town code also lists places where parking is prohibited on certain stretches, either permanently or on specific dates.

Farber also suggested having an 18-month sunset provision on the ban, so the council would be required to reassess the decision. A sunset clause was part of the original seasonal ban on Andrews Avenue, which eventually became permanent.

The debate involving Rivalries began in late 2014, and only concluded this spring when Lance and Amy Meader, who own the existing Rivalries in Portland, received a building permit after several appearances before the Town Council and Planning Board. What began as a two-story proposal was ultimately scaled back to a single-story restaurant and bar with 125 seats inside and an additional 32 seasonal seats outside.

Rivalries’ plan includes nine parallel parking spots on Farm Gate Road, which residents of the Tidewater Farm Homeowners Association opposed.

Some councilors Monday questioned whether instituting a ban before the restaurant opens would be appropriate. Councilor Claudia King said approving a parking ban would mean councilors are assuming there will be a problem.

“If we were to do something here … we would be setting a precedent,” King said.

Councilor Charlie McBrady echoed her sentiment.

“We’re anticipating a problem and we don’t even know if there is one,” McBrady said, adding he is hesitant to ban parking on public streets.

Farber, meanwhile, said it would be more efficient to head off a problem before it arises.

“I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request,” she said.

Rivalries will have 25 on-site parking spots and 20 leased spots in Tidewater Village Lot 3. A parking study commissioned by the applicants recommended using up to 35 public parking spots on the north side of Clearwater Drive, with 25 parallel spots on the south side, and seven spaces on Hat Trick Drive.

Fifty-three parking spaces are required by the town, based on the number of seats. The Planning Board agreed to remove a requirement for 20 shared parking spots in April.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Although Rivalries restaurant is still under construction on Clearwater Drive in Falmouth, the Town Council is being asked to ban parking on nearby Farm Gate Road.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.