Wiscasset Planning Board

Water Street apartments, Route 1 business pursued

Posted:  Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 10:00am
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A Newcastle couple and their Bath son want to move their Portland coffee bean-roasting business to the Maine Coast Chimney property on Route 1 in Wiscasset and open a breakfast and lunch cafe and a market there, too. And a Westport Island man wants to have six apartments in the former Coastal Enterprises building he just bought at 41 Water Street.

Planning board members on Monday night voiced early support for both projects but took no votes. The applicants got further instructions, including a step Chairman Ray Soule and some other members were surprised to hear the apartments applicant, Bruce Benner, will have to take.

Member Karl Olson cited a local ordinance, stemming from state law dating to the 1970s, he said subjects Benner’s proposal to subdivision review. Members said they knew subdivisions involved dividing land, but not parts of one building. That law should be changed, member Deb Pooler said.

According to a copy Olson handed out, the state’s definition of a subdivision includes “the division of an existing structure or structures previously used for commercial or industrial use into three or more dwelling units within a 5–year period.”

“We should have a regulations book this thick,” Soule said, gesturing with his thumb and index finger as if holding a book. “Instead of this thick,” he said, raising his index finger higher.

If it’s the law, the board has to follow it, member Al Cohen said, adding at another point: “I think it’s a good project.  I really do.”

Regarding housing, Pooler said: “We need it so much in the town.”

During the meeting and in a phone interview later, Benner said he will continue through the approval process. “So be it,” he told the board about the subdivision requirement. In response to Benner’s questions, members said he could seek a permit from Code Enforcement Officer Stan Waltz to get started on the apartments, as long as he doesn’t make as many as three units without board approval. Benner planned to look into it.

As for the Maine Coast Chimney site at 564 Bath Road, Cathy Peterman said she and husband Jim Peterman and son Kyle, co-owners of Seacoast Coffee Company, have a purchase-and-sale agreement. Board members instructed them to submit a site plan showing boundaries, parking, lighting, signage and a planned addition where the coffee beans would be roasted. The addition would go on the back, she said.

An 18-wheeler would bring beans there about two to three times a week and the roasted beans would leave in vans for delivery to customers, Peterman told the board. Cohen said the odor produced when coffee beans are being roasted is not the same smell people associate with roasted coffee beans. Peterman said if it’s an issue, the business can do mitigation such as raising the stacks higher.

The Petermans’ application states they have been in business 12 years, have annual sales topping $750,000, and plan to take out a Small Business Administration loan for the project.

Asked about the move to Wiscasset, Cathy Peterman said Portland is saturated with cafes and markets and this site has Route 1 visibility. Plus, she said, it would be a shorter commute for her, her husband and their son. “It’s almost right smack in the middle of us,” between Newcastle and Bath, she said.

According to Peterman and the application to the town, the market would have as many locally produced foods as possible, would have cheeses, craft brews and other specialty foods, and the cafe would serve breakfast and lunch. She said it would mostly be takeout; 20-30 seats are planned inside, she said.

The board meets next at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the municipal building.