SCARBOROUGH – The Zoning Board of Appeals was still deliberating late Wednesday night on whether to grant the Sprague Corp. a special-exception permit that would allow it to develop a new beachfront park next to Scarborough Beach State Park.

More than 70 people attended the meeting at Scarborough Town Hall, nearly all of whom oppose the new Black Point Park.

They worry that the park off Black Point Road will endanger pedestrians and bicyclists, contribute to noise and air pollution, degrade one of southern Maine’s cleanest and most scenic sandy beaches, and dramatically alter the character of the seaside neighborhood.

“I implore each of you to ask yourself. Could you look each of us in the eye and say this park will have no impact on Scarborough Beach,” said Lucy Lacasse, who lives on Old Neck Road.

Wednesday’s meeting was the appeals board’s third this year on the proposal from the Sprague Corp. Each meeting has been well attended, with dozens of people speaking against the project or sending emails to the board in opposition.

Sprague Corp. needs a special exception permit for a Commercial Outdoor Recreation Facility in order to move to the next stage of approval — site plan review by the Scarborough Planning Board.

Sprague Corp. has revised its plans asking that Black Point Park be able to accommodate up to 370 passenger vehicles.

“Clearly this is a heated topic and some people are taking it personally,” board member Rick Loisel observed.

But Loisel said the appeals board must follow zoning standards and not base its decision on whether it thinks a project is good or bad, or vote a project down based on widespread opposition.

“We do hear you,” Loisel told the audience. “But we also hear them (the developers).”

The board may have tipped its hand at its March 30 meeting when members agreed but took no formal vote on a plan to allow 370 spaces in a new grass and gravel parking lot. Sprague Corp. initially wanted 500 parking spaces, but neighbors objected.

Board chairman Mark Maroon echoed Loisel’s sentiments, saying the board must adhere to zoning standards and not make compromises in formulating its decisions. He also said he believes Sprague Corp. has the right to make a profit off the land it owns, but he urged Sprague to allow as much public access as possible.

“What we try to do is work within the realities of this world, and help all of the people the best we can,” Maroon said.

“Frankly, we all are scared of the consequences of this plan if it ever were to be built,” said Ogden Hunnewell, who lives at Prouts Neck — a neighborhood that would be near the park. “We feel it is a terrible mistake for this area.”

Earlier Wednesday, Seth Sprague told the editorial board of The Portland Press Herald that the proposal continues a company legacy of trying to expand public access to the outdoors.

He said the company will make only about $30,000 to $40,000 a year on the project, barely enough to cover property taxes.

Sprague said the proposal complies with zoning rules for outdoor recreational projects. If the Zoning Board of Appeals agrees, he still needs to go to the state for Department of Environmental Protection review and to the town’s Planning Board for site plan review.

Although he originally hoped to start work on the road and parking lot this fall, Sprague said his best-case scenario now is to get started next spring.

He said the goal remains to provide access to the beach and lessen the traffic backups on Black Point Road caused by people waiting to get into the lot at Scarborough Beach State Park, or in overflow parking of 140 spaces on the other side of the road.

If the proposal with 370 spaces goes through, Sprague said, the overflow lot would be closed.

— Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report. 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be reached at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]