s-ceordcommittee-122608 Zoning discussion turns to restaurant rules

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Ordinance Committee Tuesday continued discussion of the Business-A district overhaul, focusing on proposed uses.
But the panel left talk of map changes and design standards until at least January.
The overhaul, approved by the Planning Board, was prompted by recommendations in the most recent Comprehensive Plan, and will create a more neighborhood-centric business zone including design standards, which currently do not exist in the BA zone.
The current BA zone exists on Shore Road from the South Portland border to the Irving gas station, but does not include the properties owned by Lee Wilson and David Sanford just north of Charles Road. It also exists on Route 77 from just north of Rudy’s to just south of Kettle Cove Dairy.
The most contentious issue so far among citizens and the Ordinance Committee has been the possible inclusion of 553 Shore Road in the BA zone. Lee Wilson hopes to convert the building, which currently borders the existing business zone, into first-floor retail with office space on the second floor and a studio or one-bedroom apartment on the third.
The question of whether to rezone the property was discussed only indirectly Tuesday – in discussions of permitted uses proposed for the area regardless of rezoning 553 Shore Road, with the stickier point revolving around restaurants.
Restaurant size and hours of operation were discussed at length. Committee members were sensitive to size restrictions because The Good Table, which has 75 seats, already exists within the current BA zone on Route 77. The proposed ordinance overhaul restricts restaurants to 80 tables; future restaurants will also have to meet parking requirements which will be somewhat self-limiting. For every four seats in a restaurant, one parking space is required.
Discussion about hours of operation also took into consideration what currently happens at The Good Table, but committee members opted to set earlier closing times in order to address potential complaints in the more dense neighborhood on Shore Road. The committee opted to move suggested closing times up one hour, so that restaurants could be open from 6 a.m until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on weekends.
Other, less contentious changes to permitted uses include adding veterinary and medical clinics, gas stations and repair garages, day cares, cottage industry manufacturing, and bed and breakfast inns.
Town Planner Maureen O’Meara said that when looking at use changes, the Planning Board took into consideration what already exists on Shore Road and what might fit in the future.
The committee did not have time Tuesday to discuss business size and setback requirements and has yet to examine design standards. The committee is expected to discuss the rezoning of 553 Shore Road after determining all other BA changes.
The committee expects to meet again in the second week of January, but has not yet set a date or time. It likely will not be the last meeting to discuss the district.
Copies of the zoning proposal are available on the town Web site.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or strent@theforecaster.net.