Planners review brewery project

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

The Mount Henry Brewing Company's proposed microbrewery and taproom, to be located at the former curtain shop and ice cream stand property at 48 Portland Road, began being reviewed by the Bridgton Planning Board, this week.

The planning board reviewed all of the 24 performance standards under the Town of Bridgton Site Plan Review Ordinance, deciding to postpone reviewing those performance standards that pertain to surface water drainage and protection from undue water pollution until the town's code enforcement officer, Robbie Baker, returns from vacation next week. Planning Board Chairman Steve Collins noted that the board members do not have the expertise to determine whether or not those two performance standards have been met, but that the CEO does.

Less than a dozen residents attended the May 22 planning board meeting, with most coming from the neighborhood that surrounds the proposed brewery and taproom — those who live on Maple Street and Smith Avenue.

Co-applicant Angie Roux apologized that her business partner Robert Prindall could not attend Tuesday night's planning board meeting, noting that the soon-to-be father was at "the last Lamaze class that happens before her (his wife's) due date."

A May 8 letter from Gorham Savings Bank Vice President Daniel Hancock to the planning board has been included in the microbrewery and taproom application, stating, "This letter is to inform you that Mt. Henry Brewing Company has been approved for financing to complete the project located at 48 Portland Road. The company has demonstrated adequate financial capacity to support the debt service, and we look forward to working with them on this endeavor."

As to the performance standards that pertain to "preserving and enhancing the landscape" and "relationship to surroundings," Roux said, "We don't intend to change any current landscaping or plan on disturbing any landscaping or the buildings themselves."

She noted that the 40- by 40-foot microbrewery building to be constructed will not be open to the public.

The hours of operation for the taproom will be noon to 8 p.m., and it will operate five days per week, Roux said

When Planning Board member Dee Miller asked if the microbrewery building was intended to look like a barn, Roux replied, "I wouldn't say it resembles a barn — it's 40 by 40 square...we'll do our best to make it flow with the appearance of the (rest of the) property. We won't jump out with big colors."

Roux said the farmhouse and former ice cream shop structure will be painted a "light gray and maroon red (will be used) for the highlights (trim)" with red roofs. No new lighting or signage is anticipated either, said Roux.

"There are no major plans on changing the look of the façade of the buildings," Roux said.

The Maine Department of Transportation has determined the microbrewery and taproom will require an entrance driveway at least 20 feet in width, in order to receive an entrance permit from that agency.

When Michael Daley expressed concern that there may be large trucks and tanker trucks loading and unloading at the 48 Portland Road location, Board Chairman Steve Collins, a professed home-brewer of beer, stated, "I'm a home-brewer — this will be a seven-barrel brewery — each barrel is 200 gallons," with no more than four or five barrels.

"I envisioned a large brewery like Anheuser-Busch has," Daley stated.

Roux said she anticipates having one box truck delivery per month.

Collins noted that brewing beer requires grain, to which Maple Street resident Cynthia Gorman said, "First it was going to be a tasting room, and now a bar. And grain equals rats — I don't want rats in my neighborhood."

Amy Ober, who accompanied Roux May 22, said they "will be working with the Department of Agriculture" to meet its regulations.

Miller pointed out that the proposed microbrewery and taproom must comply with state regulations and laws that oversee these types of businesses.

"It's not as wide open as people might think," said Miller.

"We have always said 30 seats," Roux said.

As to whether a surface drainage study by a licensed engineer will be required at the microbrewery property or not will be determined when CEO Baker returns to work next week, and the matter will be discussed further at the planning board's meeting on June 5.

Gorman expressed her concern about surface water drainage in that area and she said it affects other neighbors' properties as it drains toward Stevens Brook. Bonnie Trafford, who resides on Maple Street, also had concerns about the surface water in the area affecting neighboring properties.

Public Works Director Jim Kidder noted that a culvert was put under the road about 20 years ago.

"That whole area (from Morning Glory Diner on Portland Road back toward Maple Street) is very wet," Kidder said.

"We are prepared to meet with Rob when he comes back," said Ober. "We can have a study done."

Referring to the drainage study, Chairman Collins said the planning board does not intend to "put anyone to (bearing) an undue cost, but we want to do this right."

"Okay, I think we're (the planning board) in substantial agreement with the applicant on everything but Items 5 and 13 (surface water drainage and protection against undue water pollution), so I'd entertain a motion to table those until our next regular meeting on June 5," Collins said.

The board expects to have CEO Baker's determination on how those two performance standards may or may not impact consideration for planning board approval by their June 5 meeting date.

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