By Rebecca Pritchard, Special to the Islander
BAR HARBOR — Restaurant owner Tom St. Germain successfully appealed a decision of the Planning Board regarding parking spaces at his business, Jack Russell’s Steakhouse & Brewery.
The town’s Appeals Board voted in his favor at their June 18 meeting, but the exact number of required parking spaces is yet to be determined.
In April, the Planning Board approved a revised version of St. Germain’s land-use application to add an event facility to his property.
The approval came with conditions, mostly having to do with the number of parking spaces required at the Eden Street facility. Based on the size of the business (the gross square-foot leasable area minus the basement), the board determined there should be 24 parking spots, with 18 onsite and six at an adjacent property.
St. Germain had argued that fewer parking spots are needed because there is an Island Explorer bus stop on his property.
There is a regulation that allows the board to grant a “bus credit” for businesses located on a regular bus route. St. Germain’s request had been denied because, according to the Planning Board, the board had already reduced the number of parking spots by excluding the basement from the gross square-foot area calculation, and they were not comfortable reducing the number further. This was the decision that St. Germain appealed.
St. Germain and his lawyer, Daniel Pileggi, asked the Appeals Board to grant a six-parking-spot reduction based on the restaurant’s location along a busy bus route.
That had not been taken into account by the Planning Board, Pileggi said. “An ordinance is vague when we must guess at its meaning or if it encourages arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement,” he said. “I’d ask the board to consider the standards the Planning Board used. If there aren’t any, it’s arbitrary.”
St. Germain stated his wish to have all his parking spots on his property and not off site. “We’re better off encouraging people to come to our restaurant by bus than asking them to drive to the hotel next to us, park in a specific area, and then walk across their portico and find their way to our restaurant,” he said.
During the public comments section of the meeting, resident and former Planning Board Chair Ivan Rasmussen lent support to this argument, saying the town’s new parking-meter plan was approved “not just to gather revenue … but to promote walking, bicycling and the Island Explorer bus.” Rasmussen said granting a bus credit “would be a signal to the town that we take the [parking] program seriously.”
Appeals Board Chair Ellen Dohmen made the motion to grant the appeal, instructing the Planning Board to reconsider the bus stop as a single issue, unrelated to other parking considerations.
This motion was approved 5-0. The exact number of required parking spots will be determined at a future Planning Board meeting.
St. Germain is a member of the Planning Board, but has recused himself from any decision making regarding his own business.