2014-08-08 / Front Page

Harbor Hotel plans pulled

Lower Village residents greet proposal with overwhelming opposition
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Bateman Partners withdrew its request on Friday afternoon to build a boutique hotel in Lower Village after residents responded with resounding opposition to the proposed contract zone at last Monday’s planning board meeting.

The proposal included a request to form a contract zone to build a 17,000-squarefoot year-round 80-room hotel on two parcels directly adjacent to Federal Jack’s. The access point would have been Doanes Wharf Road via Beach Avenue – which is an almost exclusively residential area.

David Bateman, whose firm also built the Portland Harbor Hotel in Portland’s Old Port, told the planning board at the July 28 meeting, “Your comprehensive plan really calls out the desire for additional guest facilities, hotel rooms, within the town.”

Bateman referenced year-round employment opportunities the facility would bring the town: “As we’ve said in other situations, ‘high tide floats all boats.’”

The proposal would have included a 60-space parking lot underneath the facility, and an additional 30 spaces above ground.

But residents at the meeting did not feel the advantages of such a facility outweighed the headache and hassle it would cause. Most notably, they said, would be the added traffic in an area that is already very congested.

Lower Village resident Pat Foley told the board, “We’re not the Old Port, we’re not anti business. I’m just kinda sitting here wondering, when does the madness stop in 04043, our beautiful little town?”

“When does an applicant, who wants to create a new business zone in a residential area, get thrown out of the town hall by the back of their neck and told, ‘See ya later, folks. We’re not going to do (that) to the lovely people who live on Doanes Wharf Road who bought their property in a residential neighborhood?’”

Brenda Bryant, Kennebunk resident, told the board, “There’s no room for any more cars – we need to protect the small, lovely village that we’ve had.”

Lower Village resident Robert Lyons opposed the proposal emphatically, exclaiming, “This is déjà vu all over again. This proposal is a Trojan horse galloping through Lower Village. This Trojan horse must be stopped at the stall.”

When reading the applicant’s proposal, Lyons said, he recalled an excerpt from one of Henry David Thoreau’s essays.

Rewriting the excerpt to be made applicable, he read it aloud: “That devilish horse whose ear rending neigh is heard throughout Kennebunk has muddied Lower Village with his foot. And it is he, now, that would seal off our harbor shore that Trojan horse with 80 guest rooms in his belly introduced by mercenary developers. Where is the town’s champion to meet him at Doanes Wharf and thrust an avenging ‘Do not enter’ barricade into the ribs of the bloated pest?”

After the impassioned public spoke, planning board member Robert Metcalf told Bateman, “You’ve raised some valued points in terms of how it may be a contribution to the community, but in the same vein I think you’ve heard tonight what the real negative impacts are that I think may very well outweigh the positive benefits that may come to the community.”

In an email sent Friday, Aug. 1, Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder said, “The Town of Kennebunk Community Development Department was notified today that Kennebunk Harbor Hotel, LLC has withdrawn the request to pursue the contract zone for the property located off Doanes Wharf Road depicted on Tax Map 88, Lots 66 and 67.

“The site walk that was scheduled for Aug. 18 at 6 p.m. has been cancelled as well, and there is no further pending action on this application.”

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