Proposed Falmouth sports bar inconsistent with zoning, Tidewater residents tell council

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FALMOUTH — Tidewater Farm residents continued to challenge plans for a  Rivalries restaurant and sports pub at Monday’s Town Council meeting.

The council also scheduled a workshop for Feb. 3 to discuss extending the Tidewater Master Plan Development District.

“It’s the 10th anniversary of the (Master Plan) agreement, so I thought it would be useful to reflect on how we got here,” Tidewater Farm Homeowners Association President Clifford Gilpin said.

He said the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee in 2005 released a report on developing Tidewater Farm, which he said was “prophetic on anticipating critical issues.”

The report predicted the biggest issues would be managing traffic at the compact housing development. He urged the council as they consider amending and extending the plan to recognize what is most valued by the community.

“The town must uphold the standard of CPAC and previous councils,” Gilpin said.

Tom Mudhank, a member of the homeowners association board of directors, said he had no objections with a sports bar coming to town, as he is an avid sports fan.

“I welcome Rivalries to come to Falmouth, but I have a problem with the lot they chose,” he said.

He said a sports bar on the proposed lot, Tidewater Village 4, is not what the residents bought into. He said the residents understanding had been the lot would be developed, but would have been limited to commercial office use.

Bryan Dench, a Falmouth attorney with Lewiston-based Skelton, Taintor & Abbot, represented Tidewater Farms resident David Costello, who is president of The Forecaster. Dench said the 2005 agreement said TV4 would be for commercial use only, but the town and developer are now considering changing the underlining zoning.

“We’re not against Rivalries, but what is the basis for for the town and the developer to go back on the promise?” Dench said.

He said the original use of the lot for office space, which would be open weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., is “a far cry” from a restaurant open everyday and late into the night.

Master plan

The Tidewater Farm Master Plan Development District expires April 4, which means any parcels of land that have gone undeveloped would revert back to their original zoning purposes. Two lots have been built out fully, but a handful of lots remain undeveloped.

Tidewater LLC wants to extend the plan for another 10 years.

The original agenda item for the night was to introduce an amendment to a section in the Zoning and Site Plan Review Ordinance to allow the extension, but councilors and staff ultimately decided a workshop with developers would be a more useful avenue for introducing the amendment.

Councilors found some gray area regarding Tidewater Farm Lot 2, which has an old farmhouse and barn that have fallen into disrepair. Council Chairwoman Karen Farber said the current zoning allows for a wide variety of potential uses for the lot, including office space, outdoor facilities and a restaurant with outdoor seating.

“Here we have a barn we take as open space, but the allowed uses are broader than a commercial property a block away,” Farber said. She questioned if it is proper to allow the extension for a lot with very permissive uses.

“I’m uncomfortable with extending this for 10 years without more discussion,” Farber said.

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

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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.