Planning Board still needs complete parking lot plan

SOUTHWEST HARBOR After two hours of discussion, finding the parking lot plan complete, as well as conducting a public hearing, members of the Planning Board decided to table their decision to approve it until their next meeting. 

Their meeting on Oct. 15 was at least the Planning Board’s third one regarding a decision by the town’s Board of Appeals to remand a plan for the parking lot at 376 Main Street back to them.  

Two neighboring property owners appealed different aspects of previous board decisions regarding the parking lot. One claimed the board’s decision to allow for openings at the parking lot entrances onto 3 Rod Road, versus a fence along the entire southern side, essentially permitted commercial use of the private road. The other neighbor appealed the approved buffering on that same side of the parking lot.  

In their previous meetings, members of the Planning Board asked parking lot property owner John Williams to return with a single plan reflecting approved buffering and use of the south side of the parking lot.  

Most recently, Williams began a culvert construction project on 3 Rod Road, per the recommendation of an engineer, to install a 24-inch drainage pipe. Ultimately, installing the culvert will expand the private road to the point where it would qualify for commercial use.  

“I can expand without Planning Board approval,” Williams said during the Oct. 15 board meeting. Members of the board asked him to return with a plan showing the widening of the road.  

According to Deputy Code Enforcement Officer Jesse Dunbar, Williams presented a plan last week that showed a widened road up until four feet before the second entrance to the parking lot. When asked by the Planning Board where the complete plan was, Williams said he wanted to do the project in phases. 

Members of the board said they needed to see a completed plan even if executing it is done in phases, according to Dunbar. They also specified that the road needs to be 20-feet wide at all three entrances to be used commercially. 

Use of 3 Rod Road has created tension between neighbors and Williams for much of the last year. While the neighbors claim Williams does not have a right to use the private road commercially, he has presented a deed to the Planning Board. 

Members of the board have stated more than once that the deed is enough for them to proceed. Sorting out whether Williams has a legal right to use the road commercially or not is a court matter, according to Code Enforcement Officer John Larson, members of the Planning Board and an attorney hired by Williams.  

According to Dunbar at last week’s meeting, the Planning Board deemed Williams’ site plan application complete, had a public hearing for it and then determined there wasn’t sufficient enough information to approve the plan. What they are looking for the next time they review the plan is for it to show the widening up to the third parking lot entrance and a letter from an engineer citing culvert changes coincide with his approved stormwater management plan. 

The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 5. 

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.