The golf club where the national media once flocked to watch President George H.W. Bush play is planning to expand, but some neighbors fear that a practice area the club wants to build would disrupt a quiet rural area.

Cape Arundel Golf Club wants to develop the practice facility, a small clubhouse and a maintenance building on land it owns across Goff’s Mill Brook from the course. The site would have more than three dozen parking spaces and 25 tee boxes from which golfers could practice their shots.

Mary Castner, who said her family has owned property for years near the course, said the new facility could draw scores of cars a day. She’s also worried that the club would use the “range house” at the site for social functions, although a lawyer for the club said the building would have only enough space for small meetings.

Cape Arundel was built in 1896 and became known nationwide in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when Bush played the course while staying at his nearby summer home in Kennebunkport.

The golf course is in Kennebunkport, but the land where the expansion is planned is in Arundel. The Arundel Planning Board has approved the proposal, but Castner is appealing to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which has scheduled a walking tour of the site for today and a hearing for Monday.

Complicating the matter is that the neighbors include John Fraser, Arundel’s town manager, and his wife — and Castner’s sister — Milda Castner, whose law firm does legal work for the town. Both have declined to be involved in the proceedings because of a possible conflict of interest.

Tad Redway, Arundel’s planner, said Fraser has been adamant about not being drawn into discussions about the proposal. Fraser was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment.

Milda Castner noted that she owns the land where the couple lives, and Fraser’s name is not on the deed.

The club now uses the land as a driving range, which is outdated, with members collecting their own practice shots instead of having a cart sweep up the golf balls. The club’s lawyer said the goal of the expansion is to create a true practice area, not an elaborate facility that would draw hundreds of golfers a day.

“This is a pretty sleepy golf club in terms of its use,” said Bruce Read.

Read said the practice area would be used only by members or guests, not the public. The range house, he said, would have a large porch so members could watch others practice, but the interior would be only large enough for small meetings, with a kitchenette but no dining facilities or bar.

He also noted that the club agreed to limit the lights for the parking lot, finally deciding to abide by any plan devised by a consultant recommended by the town.

“We know it’s a residential neighborhood and we’ve been trying to appease everyone,” Read said.

The maintenance building is planned in response to the town’s requirement that equipment be kept on site, rather than shuttled back and forth from the golf course, along River Road and across a bridge, Read said.

That’s also the reason for the parking area, he said. The town doesn’t want golfers taking their carts out on the road.

Paul Cadigan, a lawyer hired by Castner, said the club’s characterization downplays the amount of use the practice area would get.

For instance, he noted that 25 tee boxes can accommodate many golfers, and said the plan for more than 40 parking spaces suggests the club anticipates heavy use.

“That’s a whole lot of people and a lot of trips being generated on a Saturday morning,” Cadigan said.

Castner’s appeal, he said, is based partly on procedural grounds — Kennebunkport residents who live near the expansion site weren’t notified — and on a belief that the Planning Board erred.

For instance, he said, the number of parking spaces suggests that the board should have commissioned a traffic study, but it didn’t.

If the board denies Castner’s appeal, the matter can be taken to court.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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