SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Plans to add a 135-seat take-out restaurant to MDI Lobster Company were tabled by the Planning Board last Thursday until the owners can provide a clear idea of what they are adding to the existing business.
Four members of the board were present at the Feb. 27 meeting where John Williams filled in as chair of the board. Before the scheduled public hearing began, Williams read from the town’s land use ordinance.
“The development of the harbor area in Southwest Harbor is most critical to the future of the whole town,” he read.
“No question the harbor is important,” he added. “I’ve done a little bit of research on that. What I found is that MDI Lobster, whatever it was called, has been there since the ‘30s. Clark Point Road at one time was all fishermen down there.”
It was the third try for the MDI Lobster Company’s public hearing that had been rescheduled twice due to inclement weather. A few neighbors were in attendance, including a lawyer from the law firm, Eaton Peabody, who handed members of the Planning Board a thick packet of papers and said he was representing two neighbors and a group called, Share the Clark Point Waterfront.
At the end of 2018, owners of MDI Lobster Company and the town signed a consent agreement stating the Clark Point Road company would find an alternative way to store and refrigerate bait than a portable refrigerated trailer. Noise from the generator used to power the cooling trailer on the property was the source of several complaints fielded by the town prior to the consent agreement being created.
In the submitted application, property owner Cheryl Harper and business owners Nicholas Sayre and Joe DeBeck are proposing a 1,400 square-foot structure, with a kitchen being added to the property, as well as a 135-person seating area. Sayre and Harper were at the meeting where a set of plans for the proposed restaurant were presented to the board.
When asked specifics about the project, Sayre said DeBeck had been heading up the addition to the business and he wasn’t clear on the details.
“Are you still talking about a food truck?” Williams asked Sayre, after stating earlier in the meeting that he had walked the property with DeBeck last fall.
“It’s an option,” Sayre responded.
“Originally, we thought some kind of self-contained food truck with a structure over it,” said Williams.
“That’s what we’re leaning towards,” said Sayre.
After a few more questions from the Planning Board about the proposed business, a debate about a fence and buffering requirements for the business and whether or not those can be grandfathered in, the board decided they didn’t have enough details to review for the project.
“Basically, what we just did, we just tabled this for more information,” said Williams after the board voted unanimously to do so.
Then, to Sayre, he added. “You’ve got a lot to do.”
MDI Lobster Company is on the agenda for this week’s Planning Board meeting, Thursday at 5 p.m., for an application review for completeness.