June 24, 2018
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Divided Cape Elizabeth council blocks minigolf proposal

By Noah Hurowitz, The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — The Town Council narrowly defeated sending the Planning Board a proposal to allow miniature golf as a permitted use in the town’s Business A zoning district.

The 4-3 decision on Monday put the brakes on a plan by resident Carl Dittrich to build a nine-hole miniature golf course on land next to the Cape Elizabeth Co-op, at 541 Ocean House Road.

“The concept people have of minigolf is that it’s noisy and tacky,” Dittrich said. But he said the course would have been simple, natural and without the gaudy bells and whistles that mark some minigolf courses.

Dittrich said he had hoped to get miniature golf approved as a permitted use and would have had the course built and running by next summer.

Town Councilor David Sherman said he opposed sending the project to the Planning Board because he wanted to avoid adding to their workload a proposal he said would have received significant opposition from neighbors.

“Are we supposed to send every business idea to the Planning Board?” Sherman said in an interview Wednesday. “Sending something to them that’s dead on arrival isn’t fair, it’s a waste of their time.”

Sherman voted against the referral, and was joined in opposition by Council Chairman Jim Walsh and Councilors Jessica Sullivan and Kathy Ray.

Voting to send the proposed amendment to the Planning Board were Councilors Jamie Wagner, Frank Governali and Caitlin Jordan.

According to Sherman, the council had already heard from one resident who was concerned about the proposal, and more would have come out against it. He said previous attempts to change the permitted uses in the district had met with considerable opposition.

“Every one of those changes was extremely controversial,” he said. “The neighbors came out in full force because they felt it was to the detriment of the neighborhood. Considering a minigolf course, I think [opposition] would have been quite a bit. I just honestly didn’t see it passing.”

The Business A district, one of two in Cape Elizabeth, is a neighborhood district where the permitted business uses are geared toward the needs of the residents.

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