SCARBOROUGH — There was no doubt who was in charge at Monday’s Planning Board meeting.
Before allowing public comment on a site plan for reconfiguration of the Lighthouse Motel’s parking lot in Pine Point, Chairman Allen Paul laid down the ground rules, asking speakers to comment only on what was in the board’s purview and to refrain from rehashing displeasure over the council’s decision to swap a portion of Depot Street for the motel’s parking lot.
“The only thing we’re here to discuss tonight is the site plan,” he said. “… If we start to get off topic, I will try to bring us back on topic.”
Several board members later praised the seven members of the Pine Point Residents Association who spoke, both for restricting their comments to the issue at hand and for offering several “excellent” comments and suggestions.
Board members liked the suggestion of using a split rail fence instead of a picket fence to divide the parking lot. And they thanked residents for pointing out a planter owned by the motel that sits within the right of way of King Street.
But, after Assistant Town Planner Jay Chace told the board the fire chief had no problem with fire access, members appeared to dismiss residents’ claims that the reconfiguration would prevent emergency vehicles from accessing the beach.
Board members began to discuss design plans not only for the new parking lot, but those intended for the adjacent town-owned property and the road work that would add a bike path and sidewalk to the curve at King Street. But member Jeffrey Thomas brought them back to the parking proposal.
“What we’re looking at tonight is the applicant is looking for a place to park. … That’s why we’re here,” Thomas said. “I understand there are other issues to address.”
And, speaking directly to Nick and Peter Truman, the motel’s owners, Thomas said, “Obviously, we’ll come up with the parking for your business.”
Members John Chamberlain and Susan Auglis recommended the parking be done in conjunction with the town’s plans for the adjoining property.
“We have an opportunity to work with the land owners and the town to come up with something that makes a lot of sense,” Chamberlain said. “I would like to do that.”
Nick Truman said Wednesday that the business has been “working hand in hand with the town staff” through the design process. He said the town advised the use of a picket fence after discussing it during a meeting of a task force assembled by Town Manager Tom Hall to provide input on the design of the town-owned adjacent property.
On Wednesday, Hall said he recommended the picket fence to the task force.
“I think it’s reasonable that we need to respect private property on either side,” he said. “The split rail fence would encourage people going under it and sitting on it; the picket has a particular practical purpose; It’s intended to discourage cut-through activity.”
The area in front of the fence would be heavily landscaped with roses, he said, which would eventually grow up and hide most of the fence.
Hall confirmed the plan the task force is considering for the town’s portion does not have a turn-around, as shown in an early conceptual design, but has a drop-off area. This was of concern to several Pine Point residents who spoke at Monday’s meeting.
But Hall said the task force in its first meeting made the decision to eliminate the turn-around because it would have consumed most of the property and would not have accommodated limousines, trolleys and large vehicles. Hall expects to hold one or two more meetings before presenting the Town Council with conceptual renderings for its consideration. Both town staff and the Trumans hope work can be done concurrently on the projects, beginning this spring.
Before ending its discussion on the parking lot Monday, the board decided to set up a site walk to view the area in question. While members were not yet ready to approve the reconfiguration, they indicated the space was there to make it happen.
“I think the board acted correctly in requesting a site walk,” Nick Truman said. “It’s been a controversial issue and they’re doing the right thing by taking their time and doing it right. We’re concerned about the parking lot and they’re concerned about the citizens.”
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or email@example.com.