2017-11-10 / Community News

Gorham Road parking reviewed by ordinance committee

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Parking along a stretch of Gorham Road in front of Nonesuch River Brewing Company may be banned due to safety and winter operations concerns. (Michael Kelley photo) Parking along a stretch of Gorham Road in front of Nonesuch River Brewing Company may be banned due to safety and winter operations concerns. (Michael Kelley photo) It was only a matter of time before parking was changed on a section of Gorham Road in front of the Nonesuch River Brewing Company.

Parking was one of the hang ups the planning board had with the plan, which turned vacant lot with a run down house into a 5,000-square-foot restaurant/brewery and now parking along the road near the restaurant is being reviewed by the ordinance committee.

Although the plan was unanimously approved by the planning board April 4, 2016, several members, including Susan Auglis were uneasy with the amount of parking spaces in the lot and argued the 55 parking spaces would not meet the demand.

“If you make good beer and you make good food, you are going to be successful. I don’t think you have enough parking,” she said at final approval a year and a half ago.

Planning Director Jay Chace said parking was one of “the key issues” the board had with the project proposal, but since the plan met the parking requirements, the board approved construction of the restaurant.

“A restaurant is probably the trickiest parking scenario the board deals with,” Chace said, adding some restaurants have ample parking and others are cramped right from the get-go.

Turns out planning board members were right, there has been a parking crunch and since the restaurant brewery opened in late August, some restaurant patrons have taken to parking along Gorham Road when the lot is full.

Parking there is legal, although that could change if a proposal in front of the ordinance committee is adopted.

Scarborough Police Chief Robbie Moulton said at an ordinance committee meeting last week, since the restaurant opened, his department had fielded numerous complaints about the street parking. He said the department put the situation in a “holding pattern” to see if the on-street parking was just because the restaurant was new and people were flocking to check it out. But now, two months later, police have decided to find a way to stop on-street parking there because of safety concerns.

In mid-October, Public Works Director Mike Shaw, Planning Director Jay Chace, Scarborough Police Sgt. John O’Malley and Moulton met to review the parking situation at that site.

“After discussing both the general safety of the roadway in that area and the impact on winter operation for (the public works department), we asked Sgt. O’Malley to look into ordinance language that we might bring to the ordinance committee for discussion,” Moulton wrote in an Oct. 27 email to Town Manager Tom Hall.

O’Malley is suggesting there be no parking at any time between 183 Gorham Road and 209 Gorham Road.

Having parking on the street, he told members of the ordinance committee, is a hazard due to the increased speed of traffic, poor sight lines and lack of lighting along that stretch of Gorham Road.

“We wondered if it was dangerous, or different,” O’Malley said of the complaints police fielded. “We found in comparison to other areas, it is dangerous to have parking on the street.”

Another concern O’Malley had is what will happen when winter hits and public works plows pass through that area.

Police were not the only members of the community who shared their concerns with the ordinance committee. Thian Vu, who lives next door to the restaurant/brewery, said because cars are parking on the street, he has a difficult time safely getting in and out of his driveway.

“I cannot see cars coming or them seeing me coming out, so my concern is safety,” said Vu, who has placed an orange cone to keep cars parking too close to his driveway.

Nonesuch River Brewing co-owner Tim Boardman said he and his partners “do recognize there is a parking issue,” but eliminating that parking would limit the amount of people coming into the restaurant. He said patrons typically only park on the street between 5 and 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but cars could be seen lining both sides of the street Thursday, Nov. 2.

There have been measures put in place to help the issue, he said. Nonesuch River Brewing leases 30 spots in a nearby lot for employees and staff to park in during peak times.

“We are taking steps to minimize this as much as possible,” Boardman said.

Prior to Nonesuch River Brewing opening on-street parking in that area was rare. Many sections of Gorham Road lack the shoulders that allow for street parking, but on-street parking on the road is not unprecedented. Boardman pointed out, it is quite common to see dozens of cars parked on both sides of the street on Sunday mornings in front of The Rock Church of Greater Portland at 66 Gorham Road.

Taking in the concerns of the police and the desire of the business owners, committee member Will Rowan recommend forwarding along to the council a temporary parking ban from 183 Gorham Road to 209 Gorham Road until April 1. It would go into effect when the council adopts it, which at this point most likely would not happen until December at the earliest. Kate St. Clair opposed the idea, saying it needs further discussion and would hate to do something detrimental to the business or community “just because I feel the pressure.”

Councilor Chris Caiazzo said the topic of on-street parking on that section of Gorham Road may be something the ordinance committee might want to discuss with the ad hoc transportation committee, a group that has begun looking at on-street parking on major thoroughfares in town.

Parking is not allowed on any street in Scarborough between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. and the traffic ordinance further restricts parking on a number of roadways, including at Higgins Beach, Prouts Neck and seasonally in many parts of Pine Point.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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