Rooftop solar array, subdivision proposal also heard

Street Food proposal gets aired before Rockport Planning Board

Sun, 06/27/2021 - 8:00pm

    ROCKPORT — On June 24 the Rockport Planning Board gave consideration to a pre-application submitted by Stephanie Turner to operate a take-out food business from a 20’x20’ building at 330 Commercial Street, the property on the corner of Pascal Avenue and Commercial Street (Route 1.)

    The board requested the applicant return with revised site maps and additional materials before a change of use could be granted to allow a food business at the location.

    The meeting also included the approval by of a final site plan submitted by Revision Energy to construct a rooftop solar array at Midcoast Recreation Center (MRC).

    The Planning Board voted to maintain a continuance on a proposed subdivision off Wellington Drive and Old County Road, pending additional documents requested by the board from the applicant, M. Richardson LLC.

    Street Food

    In the application she submitted to the Town Office, Stephanie Turner said her project, “Street Food,” would involve serving plant-based take-out food from 330 Commercial Street, as well as providing parking for up to three food trucks and vendors. The location, which is owned by Douglas Clayton, currently houses a bridal gown store and a number of hair salons. Referred to in signage as “Rockport Center,” the lot was once a car dealership. 

    Currently a 20’x20’ building is under construction on the site, adjacent to the commercial building which houses the existing businesses.

    Turner said this new building would contain the take-out food operation. She said there was at least one food truck that may be interested in operating from the site, and hoped to invite vendors to sell “farmers’ market” type products from tents. Turner would be renting the space from Clayton, and went before the Planning Board to seek a change-in-use from the site’s previous use as a car dealership in order to sell food on the premises.

    At the outset of the meeting, Chair Joe Sternowski said that the site is technically still considered an auto dealership, even though a car lot has not existed there for more than a decade, and despite the fact that the salon suites are operating out of the existing commercial building. He said Clayton had never gone before the board to ask that the use be changed.

    “You’re talking about changing the use from a car dealership, which it was, to something else, so you need to look at a [zoning] table and decide what you’re going to change it to and if it’s allowed in that district,” he said. “So that Land Use Ordinance, it’s a document that’s available on the town website, you need to go through that. I might suggest that you consider engaging with a professional engineer because it sounds like some of the things you’re doing here with ‘access onto a state highway’ and’s up to you but you might need some help with that.”

    “I live right around the corner, so I’m a little close to this because I feel like [the property’s] just kind of a hodgepodge of whatever whoever comes up with to say ‘let’s try and pop something in there’ and charge money for it. And it starts to look like clutter, doesn’t look like a plan, doesn’t look organized, it’s not a good aesthetic,” said Vice Chair John Viehman.

    Sternowski suggested the applicants review video footage of previous site application hearings by the Planning Board to get a better sense of the process. Turner said she planned to return next month with a final plan for the take-out operation.

    Solar array at MRC

    Alex Roberts-Pierel, a solar developer at Revision Energy and Craig Wilson, Director of MRC, appeared before the board to present their final site plan for the construction of a solar panel rooftop array which would provide renewable energy to the West St. recreation center.

    “This year [MRC] celebrates its 20th anniversary and we’re excited to go the next 20 years, but we need to do it smarter, more prudently and more efficiently if we’re going to make a go of it. So solar is the way for us to achieve part of that. Solar is cleaner, it saves money and it gets us off the grid,” said Wilson.

    The plan calls for approximately 23,000 sq. ft. of solar modules placed on the east and west roofs of the building. This array would generate up to 438,500 kilowatt hours of energy. Work on the site is expected to begin this summer or fall, and be completed within two months. The array owner/operator “will be an impact investor that will sell renewably generated power to MRC.” The board voted unanimously that the plan met all required performance standards and approved the final site plan for the project.

    Rockport subdivision

    M. Richardson LLC, represented by surveyor Mark Ingraham of Ingraham Land Consulting, proposed a four-lot subdivision located on Town Map 6 lot 65-001, zone district 904, which is a residential zone. The site is located off of Old County Road. Three of the lots would be approximately 2 acres; the remaining 18 acres would be divided into two parcels: one 9 acre lot would be developed, and the remainder lot of 9 acres would be retained by the owner, M. Richardson.

    The final site plan review scheduled for June 24 was a continuance placed on the project by the Planning Board at an earlier meeting. On June 24, the board maintained the continuance, requesting that additional documents and findings be presented at a future meeting before final approval could be granted. A continuance was placed on the project by the board including that a five-year moratorium from development be placed on the remainder lot, and that a storm water plant be installed. 

    The next meeting of the Rockport Planning Board will be held July 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House.