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by Anne Berleant
At the last hour, the Castine Historical Society changed its parking plan in its application for a proposed renovation and addition to its Grindle House property on School Street.
The changes were made by the historical society “as good neighbors,” and to “head off any concerns or problems” that may now be solved, CEO Drew Marks told the Castine Planning Board at its January 10 meeting to review the site plan for the project.
After consulting with abutters Par and Gunilla Kettis and Marjorie and Brian Olviari, CHS removed proposed parking for three vehicles in a lot behind the property. The parking spaces did not have the ten-foot setback required by the zoning ordinance, and the plan included a four-to-seven-foot high retaining wall that posed drainage concerns to abutters.
After discussion as to whether the intent of the ordinance’s setback definition applied to parking spaces outside the shoreland overlay district, a reading from the ordinance clarified the issue for most present at the meeting.
Setback—The nearest horizontal distance from a lot line or from the normal high-water line of a water body or tributary stream or the upland edge of a wetland or from the road right-of-way to the nearest part of a structure, parking space, or other regulated object or area.
“Let the setback stand,” said Gunilla Kettis.
“I’m disappointed,” said planning board member Doris Russell, recalling a recommendation “years ago” by the board to add parking spaces behind the Grindle House. “It seemed reasonable to me.”
The revised plan calls for one handicap accessible spot in the strip of land separating the Grindle House from the Abbott House, parking allowed on the circular drive in front of the property, and additional grading to address storm water runoff.
“I think it’s an elegant solution,” said Brian Olivari.
The proposed 26 x 26 foot addition to the rear of the Grindle House will not be open for public use, but will be for the archiving and research, so additional parking is not required by the zoning ordinance.
Section 6.23, Off Street Parking Requirements, specifies one parking space per 200 square feet of floor area and one space per two employees for business and commercial establishments. The historical society employs two staff members.
With parking on School Street at a premium, Russell proposed allowing parking along the side of School Street abutting the town common.
That, however, can only be decided at town meeting, Marks said.
A similar proposal to provide needed parking for the library addition was voted down in recent years; eventually, the library was granted an exemption from section 6.23.
After the board unanimously approved the modified plan, Russell asked that a note to the town selectmen be included “to see if they can accommodate the Castine Historical Society in getting three or four parking places alongside School Street.”
Architect Christopher Glass of Camden said the addition to the building’s ell will be slightly larger, “so it doesn’t look like a chicken house.” A full-size basement will give two additional floors to the building.
As an abutter to the property in question, member Par Kettis recused himself from the board; alternate Kathy Eaton stepped in as a voting member.