Go-kart plans ruled incomplete

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

Tom Churches’ go-kart and family entertainment project on Route 302 will have to wait until he has a complete application, the Bridgton Planning Board ruled Tuesday.

Churches expressed dismay after the vote, saying his engineer, George Sawyer, assured him he had provided everything the board needed to begin the site plan review process. He declined further comment.

Board Chairman Steve Collins outlined a long list of required information that was either insufficient or missing altogether. Collins said Churches doesn’t spell out his interest in the land, a 4.2-acre parcel being split off from nine acres of vacant land owned by Mark Lopez of M.L. Investments, Inc. located next to the Bridgton Drive-In. Churches has said he is buying the land from Lopez, but the application did not say whether he had a purchase and sales agreement in place with Lopez.

The bank information is also “very skinny,” Collins said. An Aug. 24 letter from TD Bank. N.A. of Bridgton said Churches “is considering financing for the land” and said it had requested more information from Churches before it can consider financing for the estimated $3 million project, to be completed in three phases over several years.

Collins also said the building sketches weren’t detailed enough. Churches proposes initially constructing a 30’ by 140 foot four-store retail building fronting on Route 302, an 800-foot outdoor go-kart track in the rear, and a 30’ by 30 foot building nearby to house a modern version of bumper cars. By 2012, Churches proposes to add a 125’ by 200 foot steel building between the go-kart track and the retail building to house an indoor, year-round Family Entertainment Center with a variety of games and amusements.

One of the retail spaces would be occupied by his business, The Shipping Store, now located on Portland Road, and Churches said he has a second retail tenant lined up. Churches recently sold his 10-year-old business, Mountain Mini Storage, on Harrison Road.

Collins said the town’s site plan ordinance requires a detailed landscaping plan, which Churches did not provide. But perhaps most importantly, “there’s a lack of detail on the lighting” that will emit from the track and the development as a whole. Concern over lighting has generated “a huge amount of interest on the effects to the abuttors,” especially the drive-in, a 50-year-old institution in town and a business that depends on darkness to show its movies on the big outdoor screen, Collins said.

Drive-in owner John Tevanian has been vocal in wanting the board to impose specific noise and light restrictions on the go-kart project, the hours of operation of which would be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The board has received 15 letters of concern about the impact Churches’ project might have on the drive-in, including ones from the manager of the Magic Lantern Theatre and Tevanian.

“A drive-in needs darkness and relative quietness to be a viable business,” Tevanian wrote. “Anything less will condemn it to a certain death.”

Churches has said his go-karts would be electric and, therefore, virtually noiseless, and the in-track lighting would not negatively impact the drive-in — but would complement it instead, bringing in more business as an area destination for entertainment.

Board member Dee Miller said she didn’t see details in the plan on how Churches would handle wastewater from the site. Topography details are also missing from the plan, and there are wetlands on the site, she said. Collins said Churches’ project proposes to create somewhere between 55,000 to 75,000 square feet of impervious surfaces, for parking and the track; and therefore Churches will need to apply to the state Department of Environmental Protection for a stormwater permit. Information is also missing on soils and phosphorus control mitigation from runoff, he said.

Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Baker said the plans call for a common entrance access to both Lopez’s and Churches’ property from Route 302 and an exit on to Home Run Road; yet the exit road is not shown on the plan.

“George (Sawyer, of Sawyer Engineering & Surveying, Inc. of Bridgton) was supposed to have all that done,” Churches told the board.

Churches was offered the opportunity to present his plan as an informational meeting, but Churches declined. “I don’t want to waste your time, I’ll just say the same thing again,” he said, saying he would come back when he had all the necessary information.

The board agreed to give him up to 60 days, but added he could come back as soon as he had the requested information. Miller suggested that the board schedule a site walk before Churches comes back to the board.

In other action, the board agreed to reschedule the public hearing for review of Lopez’s application to build a McDonald’s Restaurant across from Hannaford supermarket to Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Tom Dubois of Mainland Consulting said the architects have completed preliminary design plans for the restaurant, and turned over copies of the plans to the board for its review.

The board also signed the mylar on a three-unit condominium conversion of the Wales & Hamblen building at Pondicherry Square, on Main Street, and also signed final plans for the King’s Pine subdivision at 4 Rileys Run, being developed by Bruce and Loretta Ferraro. Approval extensions were given for the three-lot Blueberry Hill Road subdivision and a lot split and lot line revision for Patricia Gibbons on Beaver Creek Farm Road — both of which were not recorded in a timely fashion at the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, as required by the town.

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