Rivalries owner seeks to reduce Falmouth parking requirement

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FALMOUTH — The debate over a sports-themed restaurant and bar on a Tidewater Village lot behind Wal-Mart could resume, several months after it seemed to have been resolved.

The owner of Portland-based Rivalries, Falmouth resident Lance Meader, will return to the Planning Board on April 5 to try to remove requirements for shared parking on a lot adjacent to the proposed restaurant.

Public comment will be allowed.

The project at Farm Gate Road and Clearwater Drive received conditional approval from the Planning Board last November, with a condition to acquire 40 off-site parking spaces in an adjacent lot known as Tidewater Village lot 3.

Senior Planner Ethan Croce this week said Rivalries has only been able to acquire 20 spots, so Meader will be asking the Planning Board to waive the requirement for 40.

Croce said Rivalries still has 25 on-site parking spots in addition to the 20 leased spots in TV3. Fifty-three parking spots are required by ordinance, based on the number of seats. Rivalries is proposing a restaurant that would have 125 indoor seats and an additional 32 outdoor seasonal seats to be housed in a single story building of roughly 4,600 square feet.

A parking study commissioned by the applicant stated up to 35 public parking spots could be used on the north side of Clearwater Drive, with 25 parallel spots on the south side, and seven spaces on Hat Trick Drive. The proposal also includes nine parking spots on Farm Gate Road.

Croce said based on the parking study, the lost 20 spots would not be an issue at times when demand for parking would be greatest – during weekday lunch hours – because the shared parking spots wouldn’t be available anyway until 5 p.m.

He said based on the numbers provided in the parking study, the indication is parking demand could still be met even without these 20 shared spots.

Croce said the board could either approve the request or ask Meader to make other arrangements for parking.

Justin Brown, the town’s code enforcement officer, on Monday said he hasn’t received anything from Meader regarding a building permit. Croce said even if approval is granted by the Planning Board next week, there are still a few steps before Meader can apply for the permit, although parking is the biggest hurdle.

The other steps include paying an inspection fee and recording a public easement over a portion of a sidewalk on Farm Gate Road. Parking agreements also need to be recorded at the registry of deeds.

The proposed restaurant, which first went to the Town Council in December 2014, drew push-back from residents in the neighboring mixed-use community. One of the main complaints from the Tidewater Farm Homeowners Association was the need for adequate parking.

Representatives of the homeowners association could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Rivalries has has been through several meetings of the Planning Board and Town Council since it was first introduced as a two-story, 11,400-square-foot restaurant that would seat nearly 200 people. Over time, the plan was reduced to 8,000 square feet, and eventually became the current plan.

Parking and traffic has been a chief concern. In December, the Town Council granted the project access to Hat Trick Drive, which runs behind Wal-Mart and is a town-owned road. Had the applicants completed all the conditions of approval from the Planning Board, that approval from the council would have been the last step before a building permit.

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

Parking continues to be an issue for the Rivalries sports bar and restaurant proposed at Clearwater Drive and Farm Gate Road in Falmouth.

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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.