ROCKPORT — The new owners of the former Helm Restaurant in Rockport received permission Aug. 14 from the Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals to reconstruct an old deck and increase the volume of a deck portion that extends close to the Goose River.
The Taste of Italy restaurant, on the corner of Main Street and Route 1 in Rockport is currently undergoing extensive renovations. It was purchased last spring by Sante Calandri, who owns two existing restaurants called Ports of Italy, in Boothbay and Kennebunk. He intends to open the Rockport Ports of Italy after repairs and improvements are made there. (Read: Italian fine dining to take the Helm in Rockport)
The former Helm Restaurant was built in the 1950s, and within the last few decades, an addition was constructed that pushed the building within the 75-foot shoreland zone setback.
The Goose River winds down behind the restaurant before it routes beneath Route 1 via a large culvert and then descends into Rockport Harbor.
Two decks, one on the south side and the other on the west side, are both lower than the existing restaurant floors. Architect Gerald Weinand hopes to raise both decks to the existing floor level, and enclose the west side deck with a screened porch.
According to Rockport Planner Bill Najpauer, as reflected in the ZBA minutes, the south deck was constructed in the shoreland zone, but was done so prior to the shoreland zone ordinance, making the deck nonconforming. The deck would increase in volume by 9.6 percent, less than the 30 percent allowed by the ordinance.
The other deck would not increase in footprint, thus not increase in nonconformance.
Rockport Code Enforcement Officer Scott Bickford said that the existing decks were shabby, and suggested the expansion be approved by a specific percentage.
ZBA member Terri Mackenzie made a motion, which was seconded by member Thomas Kennedy, to approve the reconstruction of the nonconforming decks and increase the volume of a portion of the deck by 9.6 percent.
The ZBA approved at a vote of 5-0-1 with Chairman Geoff Parker abstaining for arriving late to the meeting.