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Beach renovations move ahead

By Jennifer L. Saunders
[email protected]

September 28, 2005 YORK MAINE- The Planning Board heard updates from applicants on several pending proposals at its meeting last week, including plans to revitalize two Victorian-era buildings in York Beach.

A few days later, at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, concerns regarding the process for the historic designation of the projects were raised.

The selectmen agreed to authorize the Historic District Commission to work with acting Town Manager Jennie McCann to get a legal opinion regarding the application of the town’s historic landmark designation with a goal of assisting the York Beach revitalization effort.

Selectman Torbert Macdonald Jr. explained that the issue is one of conflicting ordinances in need of clarification.

Without a historic designation, however, the project to renovate the Atlantic House could be delayed.

Among the presenters at last week’s Planning Board meeting was architect John DeStefano, representing Don Rivers of the Atlantic House and Harold Anderson of the Kearsarge Hotel.

Rivers and Anderson have proposed a renovation plan for the two historic buildings, located in the York Beach Business District.

DeStefano said that, with Planning Board approval, the goal is to have the project completed by Memorial Day in an effort not to affect traffic in the York Beach area.

"We’re not requesting any waivers for the project ... it will be mostly internal renovations," DeStefano said.

However, he said, there will need to be demolition and shoring work as part of the project.

"If we can get this done while the merchants aren’t there, it’s to everyone’s benefit. And there’s no question the economic asset this project will have for everyone in York Beach and York in general," he said.

Helen Rollins Lord of the York Historic District Commission also voiced support for the potential of the plan.

"We have two wonderful new projects before us. One is the Atlantic House at the beach and the other is the Kearsarge Hotel at the beach," she said, adding the commission will provide input to the Planning Board following a site walk of the property.

At the start of the Planning Board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 22, Chairman Barrie Munro updated the public on the status of plans for the former Dexter Shoe Outlet adjacent to the Meadowbrook Plaza on Route 1, known around town as the "Dunkin’ Donuts" application.

Because of illness, Town Planner Steve Burns has been out of the office for the past week, prompting the Planning Department to seek clarification of the time table of the application from the Board of Appeals earlier this month.

"The requirement imposed upon both the applicant and the Planning Board is that the applicant provide the Planning Board with a plan that is complete for the purposes of review by the 11th of October, so we have some time yet to resolve that particular application relative to its completeness," Munro told the public at the Planning Board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 22.

During the public input portion of the meeting, several applicants approached the board to discuss the status of their projects. Dates for public hearings and action on the various applications are expected to be scheduled in the next week.

Looking south on Route 1 to a well-known local business, DeStefano and Stonewall Kitchen Director of Facilities Jerry Lewis updated the Planning Board on projects associated with an approved plan for the York facility.

DeStefano explained that the owners of Stonewall Kitchen hope to have approval for a change of use as part of the previously approved plan for a tenant, AGA Appliances of England, that will not change the footprint of the site for the approved warehouse.

Heading south on Route 1, the board heard from Erik Bergeron of Sanford Institute for Savings on a plan to allow the York Fire Department to burn down the former Mandarin Inn restaurant for training purposes.

The restaurant will be demolished as part of the bank’s plan to locate a facility on the site at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 91.

After discussing possible abutter and traffic concerns, Bergeron and the board agreed to schedule a time to gather more information before taking a formal vote on the request.

In other business, the board:

# Approved a request by Joseph DeMartine for a boundary line adjustment bringing two lots on Pine Hill Road into compliance with town zoning.

# Took preference votes on the comprehensive plan and zoning amendments approved by the Board of Selectmen for inclusion on the November warrant, supporting each amendment by a majority or unanimous vote except the bus-as-a-structure issue, which seeks to define the differences between vehicles and buildings for the purpose of property setbacks.

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