2013-11-15 / Community

Revisions proposed to retail parking rules

Kennebunk Planning Board seeks ratio of three off-street spaces per 1,000 square feet
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The Planning Board, at a workshop Monday night, proposed revisions to the town’s zoning ordinances regarding off-street parking. The revisions have not yet been finalized.

The parking ratio for retail establishments in Kennebunk is proposed to change to three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of retail space. It was also decided that, for restaurants and bars, there would be an allotment of one parking space per four seats.

The planning board continued to revise the ordinance, which was drafted to ensure that adequate parking exists to “serve the use or uses of the property,” and to facilitate circulation off congested areas while providing flexibility “in the standards regarding the expansion and conversion of commercial space” in Kennebunk’s village areas.

The standards were initially raised earlier this year after residents voted against a municipal parking lot in Lower Village.

The board’s intention with the standards is to aid smaller businesses with employee and patron parking, particularly in Kennebunk’s more congested village areas where public parking might not be available.

“My concern is that we don’t penalize the small businesses who would be hampered by restricted parking rather than bend over backwards for larger restaurants,” board member David Smith said in early September.

The board, along with Town Planner Judy Bernstein, reassessed standards surveyed at the Sept. 9 meeting, and in the process, considered other towns’ standards.

Revisions such as implementing a ratio of three parking spots per 1,000 square footage of retail space, were written in.

The board also agreed that much of the wording in the standards needed to be simplified, particularly the chart detailing the review procedure of the off-street parking plan by the applicable authority, such as a code enforcement officer or the site plan review board.

“Trying to read through this chart was like trying to walk through quicksand,” said board member Richard Smith.

Chairman Chris MacClinchy agreed: “If we’re going to keep the chart, I think we need to cut down the verbiage.”

Bernstein tabled the idea of implementing an unrelated ordinance that would require businesses without adjacent parking to install a sidewalk connecting the establishment with an off-property parking lot.

“Wasn’t the idea to help a small business?

If you’re going to require them to build a sidewalk, you’re defeating the purpose,” Richard Smith said.

Said Bernstein, “Maybe, then we only require big businesses to build a sidewalk to off-street parking?”

Board member Robert Metcalf then interjected, “I think there needs to be a threshold for that standard. It begs the question — no, we don’t want to impact them (small businesses) adversely, but conversely speaking we don’t want to say (to a larger establishment), ‘No, you don’t have to contribute to the construction of a sidewalk.’ Is there a hole in that standard?”

The board will revisit the revised standards once the changes have been implemented.

The new standards require town approval via referendum vote before full implementation takes place.

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