Tap House given nod, Gastopub tabled again

A PLACE TO SOCIALIZE — This rendering by Erica Lowell Chute shows the building owned by Chuck Renneker at 18 Depot Street, Bridgton, transformed as the Depot Street Tap House, an “intimate, elegant” bar, said Carrye Castleman-Ross, whose plans were given tentative approval by the Bridgton Planning Board on Tuesday.

A PLACE TO SOCIALIZE — This rendering by Erica Lowell Chute shows the building owned by Chuck Renneker at 18 Depot Street, Bridgton, transformed as the Depot Street Tap House, an “intimate, elegant” bar, said Carrye Castleman-Ross, whose plans were given tentative approval by the Bridgton Planning Board on Tuesday.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Longtime Black Horse Tavern bartender Carrye Castleman-Ross won preliminary approval from the Bridgton Planning Board Tuesday to open a small upscale bar at 18 Depot Street, in a building owned by Chuck Renneker, across the street from the Bridgton Community Center.

All that remains for work to begin on The Depot Street Tap House is for Castleman-Ross to provide proof of financial capacity, and for selectmen to approve an 84-gallon-a-day sewer allocation increase over the 180 gallons a day currently allocated for the building.

The Wastewater Committee earlier recommended approving the request, but selectmen tabled approval at their last meeting, still unsure of whether any new sewer allocation increases should be granted prior to completion of an inflow and infiltration study. The board will take up the request at their next meeting on Tuesday, April 9.

Under the plans for the Tap House, Renneker will renovate the 864-square-foot first floor of the former storage barn to match Castleman-Ross’s vision of an “intimate, elegant” bar with seating for up to 10 patrons at three tables. Under requirements for her Class A Lounge license, a light menu of healthy Mexican food would be offered, along with Maine beer and fine wine and spirits. There would not be any live music or entertainment.

“The Tap House will be an asset to downtown Bridgton, providing an upscale but inviting place for locals and visitors to meet and socialize,” Castleman-Ross said in her proposal to the board. She said her business would increase foot traffic on Depot Street and contribute to the revitalization of that part of downtown. Customers would use the town parking lot across the street, which is shared by the Community Center, the Magic Lantern, Renys and other Depot Street businesses.

Castleman-Ross has worked at the Black Horse Tavern for 14 years, and has written a column about Bridgton for the Lakes Region Weekly for seven years.

Board members wondered if any future use were planned for the second floor, and Castleman-Ross replied that she’d like to someday use that space to open a micro-brewery with small batch brews.

“Right now it’s really a shell,” said Castleman-Ross. “But it’s a great building, and has tons of potential.”

Chairman Steve Collins said she’d need to return to the board for a separate approval if and when that happens.

In answer to a question by member Brian Thomas on any parking restrictions regarding the town-owned lot, Renneker said the only restriction is that there is no overnight parking.

Standard Gastropub

Meanwhile, plans for another bar in downtown Bridgton, the Standard Gastropub at 233 Main Street, continue to await final approval while its developers, William Henry Holmes and Alvah Frankin Johnson, work to obtain proof of financial capacity. The board granted preliminary approval for the project on Feb. 5, and had scheduled final approval for Tuesday, but the developers asked for the second time for the matter to be tabled, saying, “We have not yet resolved the matters required for review,” which also involved parking issues.

The business, to be located at the former Bridgton Gas & Convenience store, will offer a combination of fast-food service, with gas at the pumps and takeout food and craft beers. “We have received an incredible amount of interest and support from everyone in Bridgton and the surrounding area, and hope that everyone will bear with us as we continue to work hard to bring this new and exciting business to life,” Holmes and Johnson said in a March 25 letter to the board.

Member Dee Miller asked if there was a limit to how many times a project’s final approval could be tabled. Collins said no, as long as a date was set when the matter would be revisited. The Gastropub will be taken up again at the board’s May 7 meeting.

Dunkin’ Donuts

The board heard details of Brian Fram’s plans to improve the safety of traffic flow at his 181 Portland Road Dunkin’ Donuts business by expanding into an adjacent lot on the drive-through side of the restaurant. The current parking layout requires drive-through customers to drive across the main entrance and parking area in order to exit onto Route 302, causing what Miller termed “a very scary situation.”

Under the plans, the east end of the existing building would be extended eight feet and the pickup window would be relocated to the east side of the new addition. Three new parking spaces would be added, along with a six-foot traffic island to separate the traffic flow of drive-through and walk-in customers. A 40’-by-15’ patio would be built along the front of the building, and landscaping would be provided both around the building and along Portland Road.

“Improvements inside and outside will alleviate congestion and provide a more appealing facility for customers and passing public,” Fram wrote in his application. Keith Lincoln, representing Fram, told the board, “The main reason for this is to provide different directions of travel for the parking and drive through.”

Collins asked board members if they wanted to require a full phosphorus study, since the board erred in its original 2004 approval by not requiring such a study. But Board Alternate Adam Grant said he didn’t think that was fair to the applicant, since it would cost at least twice as much as a phosphorus study limited to just the expansion of the project site. The board agreed to go with the more limited phosphorus study.

Fram submitted a study by Albert Frick Associates that determined the adjacent lot, while a sensitive area prone to wet periods, did not contain any vernal pools. The lot would be used to accommodate the existing building’s expansion and also serve as a crushed stone parking area.

McDonalds storage building

McDonalds developer Mark Lopez won preliminary approval to build a 10’-by-20’ storage shed in the rear portion of the restaurant site on Portland Road. McDonalds’ Bridgton franchise owner Ed Roetman said he needed the shed to store dry goods that would accessed as needed by store employees using hand dollies.

The siding will be of the same type that is on the existing restaurant building and adjacent vacant retail space. The shed will be sited on a slab, and minimal regrading will be needed on the site. The shed will be placed adjacent to the parking spaces at the rear of the restaurant, and will be constructed in May or June.

Collins noted that the site plan review ordinance ought to be amended so that projects such as the storage shed, which make no substantive changes to the original approval, would not have to come back to the board as is now required. Engineer George Sawyer noted that the state Department of Environmental Protection is now in the process of doing the very same thing, in order to streamline the review process for developers.

Main Eco Homes

The board also granted preliminary approval to plans to build a 32’-by-40’ building on the north side of 171 Portland Road, which currently has a 40’-by-80’ building housing Main Eco Homes and three other office businesses and a second floor apartment.

The new building would be set back further from Portland Road than the existing building and would be used as a storage area and workshop by Main Eco Homes. It would also have a one-bedroom apartment in the basement.

The new building would be used primarily as a staging area to move supplies to job sites, with some precutting and priming of building materials. A new sign for Main Eco Homes would be installed on the new building. Construction will begin immediately, following the board’s expected final approval at their next meeting.


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