Scarborough Planning Board backs changes for Cabela's plaza

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SCARBOROUGH — The Planning Board has recommended the Town Council approve a fifth amendment to the contract zoning agreement between the town and N.E. Expedition, the owners of the Cabela’s plaza on Payne Road.

The amendment would allow additional signs and drive-through restaurants, as well as craft fairs and outdoor sales.

The initial public hearing was held at the Planning board meeting three weeks ago, but the members asked N.E. Expedition to provide site plans to show where the proposed signs, restaurants and outdoor events would be located.

“They had included the legal description, but it was hard to visualize,” Planning Director Dan Bacon said.

During a meeting on June 7, Gene Beaudoin of N.E. Expedition presented the visuals, which showed where four potential restaurants could be built on the property, as well as where the various signs and outdoor sales would be located.

Beaudoin said there would likely be three drive-through restaurants or coffee shops in the plaza, although four would be possible.

“We’ve had requests from coffee shops, but they wouldn’t consider (moving into the plaza) without a drive-through,” he said.

David Hopkinson, owner of Henry VIII restaurant in the plaza, also attended the public hearing to urge the Planning Board to recommend the proposed amendment.

“Any type of signage will help us build sales,” he said. “In this economy, signs or events will truly help business.”

The proposed amendment would allow farmers markets and other outdoor sales managed or owned by businesses other than those in the plaza, for up to three consecutive days per week.

Planning Board member Ronald Mazer took issue with the three-day allowance.

“Farmers markets in general don’t go for three days,” he said.

Beaudoin countered with his experience in Burlington, Vt., where a farmers market runs for two to three days per week.

“We’re trying to capture the future here,” he said, adding that N.E. Expedition does not want to keep coming back and requesting additional amendments to the contract zone each time it wanted to adjust small items, such as longer markets or installing holiday banners on parking lot lights.

He said the local farmers market is happy in its current location, the parking lot at the high school, and that he did not anticipate this particular section of the amendment to be put into effect for several years.

Some Planning Board members expressed concern about the amount of parking on the premises, however Beaudoin pointed out that Cabela’s had insisted on a large number of parking spaces, most of which are not currently used.

After the meeting, Beaudoin said he is negotiating with three new tenants for the open spaces in the plaza. He said he would reveal the names of the companies in several weeks.

“None are very large,” he said. “A couple thousand square feet each.”

He said N.E. Expedition is also in discussions with a hotel.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or