The Kittery Planning Board on Thursday night determined changing the building use of the former Frisbee’s Market did not constitute a significant change of intensity use. It will permit the group looking to redevelop the site at 88 Pepperrell Cove to obtain a building permit for the market building to convert it into a restaurant.
The application from the Pepperrell Cove Group made up of co-owners of AJ’s Wood Grill Pizza, Henry and Eides Ares, Kittery developer Donna Ryan, Kittery Point philanthropist Ann Kendall and architect Carla Goodknight, are converting the old Frisbee’s Market into a restaurant called The Bistro, building a second restaurant behind the Cap’n Simeon’s building called Frisbee’s Wharf, converting the Cap’n Simeon’s building into an event center called The View and building a convenience store called Provisions underneath Cap’n Simeon’s around the back.
“We began the renovation and restoration of Pepperrell Cove in May with a building permit application for The Wharf,” said Goodknight. “We met as a team and determined our best path forward to opening as soon as possible was not to introduce or pursue any changes to the current property that would require extensions of our projected timeline.”
The group was initially looking for approval for the change of building use, which would have cleared the way for obtaining a building permit, but board members voiced concern the parking plan on file with the town was for 108 on-site parking spaces and plan-approved in 2010 as part of a prior restaurant’s application.
“We don’t have a document that demonstrates there are 108 spaces on the property and ideally we’d have that,” said vice chair Karen Kalmar. “I am absolutely 1,000 percent confident you are going to succeed. I go to the post office across the street, when I see a diagram that may purport, regardless how it got here, to have 108 spaces, I don’t necessarily know if I can visualize that on the ground. I wonder if you can make the effort to demonstrate there is sufficient parking to meet this requirement.”
Goodknight said she believed the plan was still valid because a previous board had approved it.
“We’re not seeking to change it, we’re seeking to follow what is currently present and approved and recognized what is the current count on site,” said Goodknight. “If we were seeking to make a change; our mandate on this project because time is so valuable, we really want to adhere to the standard that was set. The precedent for the last half-dozen changes of use were OK with the interpretations that were existing.”
The board ultimately decided final occupancy of Frisbee’s Wharf, the final entity slated to open in May, would not be granted until the group comes back with a parking plan. Town Planner Chris DiMatteo said the opening of The Bistro, Provisions and The View would not cause a parking issue.
“Perhaps the board says this is a business use change for the planner and the code enforcement officer to take, so you’ll send it back to us with a condition that prior to occupancy of The Wharf that they return to the Planning Board with a site plan that demonstrates the required,” said DiMatteo. “It’s clear, at least one or one and half restaurants had the capacity for what it was doing, so now you hold off on one component of that and you’re going to three restaurants, and you just demonstrate the total parking, the one before, can be put into motion.”
Goodknight said she and the rest of her group now expect to obtain the building permit on Monday, to begin construction on the Bistro.
“Our construction workers are ready to move forward with The Bistro,” said Ryan. “Our goal here and our hope is to bring the property back alive to what it was when Mr. and Mrs. Frisbee ran this years ago and it was a joyful place to go.”
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