Revised Falmouth sports pub proposal still troubles neighbors

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FALMOUTH — After meeting with neighbors, developers of a sports pub proposed for Hat Trick Drive returned to the Town Council Monday night with revised plans.

But the changes still don’t satisfy residents of the nearby Tidewater Farm neighborhood. They believe the project does not comply with the Tidewater Village plan, and are concerned that parking, noise and traffic will become problems.

Lance Meader, owner of Portland-based Rivalries, and architect Michael Hays of Grant Hays Associates, presented plans for a smaller building footprint, reduced from the original 45 feet by 100 feet to a narrower 40 feet by 100 feet. Hays said the size of the building will be less than 7,400 square feet, which is allowed by existing zoning.

However, the applicants asked the council to exclude a 2,300-square-foot basement from the building area because “the basement is a non-threatening space” to those concerned about the size of the building.

The proposed elevations of the building remain unchanged, and there would still be seating for 192 patrons, Hays said, although that number might shrink because of the smaller building size.

But Clifford Gilpin, president of the Tidewater Farm Homeowners Association, Tuesday said the restaurant owners and developers have not provided an accurate occupancy, even though there are formulas to calculate the number.

“There seems to be a lot things that keep changing,” Gilpin said. “We’re not sure what the actual proposal is at this point.”

Parking, which had been a major concern of nearby residents, is in the process of being arranged, Hays said. The building will have 24 on-site parking spaces, 22 in Tidewater Village Lot 3, 10 at Foreside Place, and eight will be developed with Family Ice, he said. Based on an occupant load of 192 seats, 64 parking spots would be required and have been accounted for, he added.

Hays said the spots in Tidewater Village have already been leased, and while the remaining spots have not been, owners of the spots “have indicated they’re on board.”

Still within the requested zoning amendment sought by Rivalries is allowing the business’ parking radius to be within 1,300 feet of the parcel for parking based on use, to accommodate adjacent parking. Within this, Hays said, 34 to 36 public parking spots could be found on Clearwater Drive. He said after 5:30 p.m., when businesses tend to close, even more spots could open up in Tidewater Village, as along with other public parking spots on Hat Trick Drive.

Hays said there is a “significant amount of opportunity to fulfill the parking requirements with shared parking.”

The lot was originally zoned for commercial office use only, with a maximum footprint of 8,000 square feet. In addition to requesting a change in use to restaurant and outdoor dining, the proposal still seeks an entrance on Hat Trick Drive.

Gilpin said the Tidewater Homeowners Association still has concerns because there was no conversation with the council about the underlying issue of changing zoning from commercial to restaurant on an inappropriate lot, “given that there are a number of other options for locating the restaurant in the area,” he said.

“Our basic concern is this proposal is completely different than what was originally visioned in the original plan, which is what all of the home owners based their decision on when they moved there and bought homes,” Gilpin said.

Councilor Caleb Hemphill raised concerns about noise from music on the patio, odor from the restaurant, and the visual impact of the building.

Hays said a dumpster would have to be screened in by ordinance, that music would be too quiet to hear even 30 feet away, and compared the layout to Sebago Brewing Co. at Fore and Franklin streets in Portland, which has outdoor seating with music but “you can’t even hear it across the street.”

When asked about the proposed hours, Meader said his restaurant in Portland is open 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m., but stops serving the full menu at 11 p.m. He said Rivalries doesn’t kick patrons out at if they are in before 11 p.m., especially if they are there to watch a sports event.

“This is what we’re here for,” Meader said.

The council scheduled a public hearing for Feb. 9. After that, the proposal will go before the Planning Board on March 3, before returning to the council.

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.