KENNEBUNK – The owner of a Lower Village restaurant said he’ll step back and reassess plans for property he owns at 2 and 4 Doane’s Wharf Road after learning the parking and residential proposals he submitted need more specifics.

Fred Forsley, owner of BR2, LLC, has proposed a contract zone for the Doane’s Wharf Road properties – and submitted two proposals – one for a 50-space parking lot and the second that includes parking and a one-story parking structure with space for up to six condominium units or dwellings on top.

Fred Forsley, owner of BR2, LLC and Federal Jack’s, has submitted a concept proposal for a 50-lot parking area and another concept for parking and a maximum of six condo units at property he owns at 2 and 4 Doane’s Wharf Road. The Kennebunk Planning Board on Monday, March 22, told Forsley that it needs more specifics. Dan King photo

There already exists some parking associated with the properties – in essence a gravel lot, but Forsley told the Kennebunk Planning Board on Monday, March 22, that he has been in a legal dispute with the town of Kennebunk over the number of parking spaces and how they are potentially divvied up. He told the board he was submitting the contract zone plans to try to resolve the matter.

He said the second plan, that included the dwellings, was a future phase.

“We’re not proposing we do that tomorrow or next week,” said Forsley, but he said while going through the steps needed, he believed it made sense to include the residential potential at the same time. He pointed out that any development would have to come ack to the planning board for permitting.

According to town records, BR2, LLC purchased the Doane’s Wharf Road properties from Cain Realty IV, LLC in June 2015, about a year after a developer withdrew controversial plans for a hotel on the property.

In Kennebunk, the planning board reviews contract zone applications and makes a recommendation to the select board, which ultimately decides if the matter should go to a town-wide vote.

At the outset of the March 22 discussion, Town Planner Brittany Howard said the board was looking at a concept plan, not a public discussion, but noted abutters had called and sent emails, expressing concern about building height, the use of parking in close proximity to the Kennebunk River, if the use was consistent with residential zoning, and traffic on Doane’s Wharf Road.

“The last thing I want to do was upset some neighbors,” said Forsley, adding he’d been reaching out to their legal counsel but had not had any response. He said he put a petition out to gauge support for his proposal and “is on our way to 100 signatures,” and said he felt confident about a referendum on his proposal, with voters seeing the it as a benefit to parking in Lower Village, among other attributes. He said if the matter isn’t resolved it would likely end up in court.

Doane’s Wharf Road Dan King photo

Architect Dave Matero said he’s been working with the sewer department to move an easement that would allow a structure there.

“There is parking on the site we feel is grandfathered,” said Matero, outlining the proposal concept.

Planning board member Robert Metcalf said a contract zone has to be a benefit to the town, and the board must approve what is going to be built, not a concept.

“I don’t see how we can possibly review anything that is going to be built in the future,” said Metcalf, adding if the proposal is about parking, then in reviewing the existing conditions, he couldn’t see how additional parking could be permitted.

“What you’ve sent us is basically two plans, (we) need to see a specific well designed, well laid out plan that meets the zoning. Right now, I see nothing here we can really take a look at,” said board member Richard Smith.

“I don’t want to develop the site right now, personally,” said Forsley. “What I really want is the exact uses I thought were approved. So potentially we what we ought to do is back off the development side of it and take what is existing there to be approved or sent to a town vote.”

Forsley said he had been told by some town officials that the property had the right to use parking for Federal Jack’s and the existing marina, and the home on the property.

He said he feels a bit frustrated with the situation and felt he needed to design his own strategy for a resolution.

“You have to come to us for approval of what you want to build,” said Metcalf.

Forsley said the existing lot is grandfathered.

Howard explained that the property was deemed to have 30 spaces, had been used for more, and that ultimately, “20-something” spaces were granted. The matter then moved on to litigation.

Howard said the  Doane’s Wharf Road property in in the coastal residential zone, but the restaurant is in the Lower Village business zone

Forsley said in presenting two concept plans, he was trying to anticipate the future.

Metcalf said a contract zone could be amended at a later time. He also pointed out that due to the parking location near the Kennebunk River, Forsley would have to address river quality and noted there will be environmental requirements.

Board member Janice Vance said the Maine Department of Transportation told the Comprehensive Plan Committee they’d like to see a shuttlebus rather than  more parking created in the area. She said people also want more access to the river. “If you’re asking for a contract zone, keep those aspects in mind,” Vance said.

“I’m all for more public access,” said Forsley, adding he would reassess.

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