Thursday, March 21, 2002

Planning board approves Cape community center

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth Planning Board unanimously approved the plans for the town’s new community center, adding three minor conditions to its approval.

The community center will be in the old Pond Cove Millworks property on Route 77 in the town center.

The site plan, developed by Oest Associates and SMRT, both Portland architecture firms, needs only small revisions, according to a review by the Planning Board Tuesday night.

The main concern of the board were the light fixtures in the parking lot that will be created just south of the community center building. On the original plan, they were similar to the ones at the high school parking lot.

The board, especially member Andy Charles, wanted them to be more like the lighting along Route 77 in the town center. The lights there are not as tall and therefore spread light over less area. To compensate for the change to shorter lights, the parking lot will require about six additional light fixtures, which would cost between $5,000 and $10,000 more.

Charles was concerned about the progressive improvement of the lighting around the school area, which he said was one of the most highly trafficked areas in town.

Board member John Ciraldo said he felt parking lot lights could be different from the town center lights.

Board Chairman David Griffin said he, too, wanted to see the nicer light fixtures. “I certainly would like to see the continuation of that style of fixture if I could,” he said.

Town Manager Michael McGovern said the town, acting as the applicant in this case, would do what it could to make the board happy as long as approval of the community center happened at the meeting and was not delayed. McGovern said bids already were coming in and action was needed.

Board member Karen Lowell suggested that the lights be upgraded, but proposed a trade to help pay for them, which became the second condition of the project approval.

The plan called for a small grassy island in the parking lot to the north of the community center, where school buses now are parked. The exact placement of the island within the lot had rankled Charles and board member Barbara Schenkel.

Charles wanted to move the island slightly, to be closer to the specifications in the town’s ordinances.

Schenkel said that even the moving of the island would not bring the parking lot up to code, and suggested the lot be treated as an existing condition and exempted from requirements to install any island.

Lowell proposed that the island be omitted and the money saved from that part be applied to the lighting upgrade.

In response to a question from the board about whether the project’s bid could be changed, McGovern said bids had already been accepted, but had not yet been awarded. He said negotiation on smaller issues could take place with bidding companies.

The third condition was proposed by Patty Flynn, representing SMRT. At the last meeting, it had been noticed that the site plan contained a small clerical error indicating where azaleas would be planted along the main walkway into the front of the building. Flynn said the error would be corrected in a final site plan.

In other business, the board:
Delayed further discussion of the Blueberry Ridge development until April 22, at the request of developer Joseph Frustaci.

Approved a request by Romeo’s Pizza owner Dimitrios Mihos to relocate the propane tanks behind his building. The original location was legal, but would have become illegal upon installation of a cooling unit, which Mihos plans to do within the next few months. The new location of the tank will still be behind the building, and will have appropriate concrete shielding to prevent cars from colliding with the 1,000-gallon tank. Mihos also said the pizza restaurant is expected to open in late May.