NOTES OF NOVEMBER 23, 2013 RYE PLANNING BOARD SITE WALK
AT FOYES CORNER (287 SEAT RESTAURANT)
Final Revision B – Provided by the Rye Civic League
Present: Bill Epperson, Mel Low, Priscilla Jenness, Ray Tweedie, Jeffrey Quinn (alternate), Phil Winslow, Mel Low, Anne Crotty (arrived late)
Also present: Kim Reed, planning administrator, Eric Weinreib, Altus Engineering (representing applicant), Mike LaBrie and Peter LaBrie (applicants)
Members of the public present included: Peter Crawford, Elisa Bolton, Roy Teigland, Judith Braley and 8-10 residents, apparently of nearby properties.
Initial discussions inside the art gallery
The discussions began in the art gallery on the property (this is the building that is to be torn down and replaced by the 287 seat restaurant). Mr. Weinreib stated that Jim Driver of the State Department of Transportation has had the driveway permit since September 27, but indicated that there were no problems with the permit.
Jeff Quinn asked about the amount of parking and how it relates to the number of employees. Mr. Weinreib stated that a letter from AMEC had taken issue with the number of employees projected for the peak shift and they would be adjusting the design after looking at the River House. Editor’s note: AMEC is the engineering firm retained by the Planning Board to look at the plans for the restaurant. The River House is a restaurant in Portsmouth owned by the LaBrie brothers. Mr. LaBrie has stated a number of times that the proposed new restaurant would be patterned after that one.
Mel Low stated that reducing the parking spaces below the current 113 planned would reduce the objections from neighbors. Eric Weinreib responded that the number of employees will be up in the revised design, causing them to reduce the amount of seating. Editor’s note: Section 500.2 of the Zoning Ordinance requires one parking space for every three seats, one parking space for every two bar stools, and one parking space for every employee on the maximum shift. An Altus Engineering plan dated September 4, 2013 shows 267 seats requiring 89 spaces, 20 bar stools requiring 10 spaces, and 14 employees requiring 14 spaces, a total of 113 spaces. Increasing the employees by 10, but retaining the same parking lot would necessitate a reduction of 30 seats to maintain compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. Of course the reduction in seats might also enable the restaurant to be smaller, increasing the area available for parking.
Mike LaBrie stated that the site is an unofficial “Park and Ride” for the beach, and that would continue. Editor’s note: It is unclear whether Mr. LaBrie was referring to beachgoers rendezvousing at the site to consolidate into a single car to save parking fees or whether there was a commercial entity providing shuttle service to the beach from the site.
Outside site walk
Mr. Weinreib conducted the tour, starting at the northeast corner. He pointed out that the east side of the driveway onto Pioneer Rd. was about 10 feet west of the telephone pole. The property line was pointed out by Mike LaBrie and the abutter who was present. It was nearly to the white fence that is in the gully on the east side of the property. Mr. LaBrie paced out the property and estimated that the eastern edge of the parking area is roughly in line with the telephone pole along a line perpendicular to Pioneer Rd.
There were a number of wells observed. Mr. Weinreib states that these are for monitoring of the petroleum and MTBE levels and are required by the State DES. Most of the contamination is believed to have come from the Tibbetts and Cavaretta businesses. The levels are monitored twice a year and have been dropping. The State will require that the wells be replaced. The soil on the site includes fill, and the water table is quite high, Mr. Weinreib said.
Mr. Weinreib pointed out the wetlands to the east of where the parking lot would be. There are pink streamers indicating the extent. Mr. Weinreib acknowledged that a prior site plan showed a finger of wetlands extending northward. However, he asserted that these had been fed by the failed septic systems from Petey’s, which used to be located on the site.
Mr. Weinraub showed the snow storage areas on the plan, which were around the periphery of the parking lot and on the island between the two rows south of the restaurant. There will be a barrier installed on the east side of the parking lot to prevent the snow from being pushed off of the pavement from whence the snow melt would flow into the adjacent wetlands. Peter Crawford asked how many parking spaces would be lost if there was four feet of snow over a two week period. Mr. Weinreib acknowledged that snow might need to be trucked off of the site. Editor’s note: The Altus plan, dated September 4, 2013, includes a note stating “Snow shall be stored at the edge of pavement, in areas shown hereon, and/or trucked off site as appropriate.” Bill Epperson quipped that we would all be going to Florida in such a case. Mr. Crawford’s question was not directly answered. Editor’s note: According to weatherunderground.com, the snow depth during February 2011 reached 31 inches in Portsmouth.
Mr. Weinreib then discussed how the water would flow off of the property. Along the east side, it would be directed into the wetlands to provide the same flow as before to replenish them. On other areas of the property, he explained, rain water would be directed into a rain garden and gully along the roads that was to be built on the property, and from there northward under Pioneer Rd. into an existing drainage network.
The site walk then went to the southeast corner of where the parking lot would be. It was quite far from the art gallery building, about 80 percent of the way from that to the Planet Aid box adjacent to the Sagamore Animal Hospital.
Mr. Weinreib then showed the location of the proposed exit onto Sagamore Rd., which was about 15 feet south of the existing green and brown signs. He then pointed to the gully across Sagamore Rd. and stated that the culvert connecting to that had not been made large enough, and that water would flow across the road onto the property. It would not flood the building, however, as the building is at an elevation of 21 feet, well above the location of the road at that point. Residents of nearby houses confirmed the flooding across the road.
Mr. LaBrie stated that the only signs would be directional ones. These would be lit by external lighting.
The site walk then returned to the Art Gallery. In response to questions, Mr. Weinreib indicated that the current floor level is at an elevation of 20.5 feet, the new building would have its floor at an elevation of 21.5 feet.
In response to a question from Peter Crawford regarding the peak traffic hour, Peter LaBrie stated that it would be around 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday for incoming traffic, and 8:30 p.m. for outgoing traffic. The restaurant would open at approximately 11:00 a.m., the kitchen would close around 11:00 p.m., and last call would be around midnight. Dishwashers would work as late as 1:00 a.m.
Mr. Crawford asserted that the peak hour used in the traffic study memorandum had been at an earlier time than the peak for the restaurant. Because of the mismatch of the peak times between the restaurant and the existing traffic, the study’s conclusion that the impact would be minimal was not correct. Mr. Crawford asserted that the existing traffic would be reduced in level by the time that the restaurant would reach its peak. Thus, he estimated that the restaurant would increase the traffic at that time by 20-30 percent. Mr. Weinreib pointed out that roads emanate from the area in four different directions, reducing the traffic impact. Peter LaBrie asserted that the traffic in the latter part of the evening would be only a few cars per hour as only stragglers would remain in the restaurant.
Elisa Bolton, 304 Pioneer Rd. stated that there is a quality of life issue. She hears cars whizzing by as her house is right on the road. Some are playing music.
Judith Braley, 5 Elwyn Rd. asked that they be sensitive to the neighbors. They do not want to hear people leaving at night. Peter LaBrie stated that it would not be loud. Their target market is DINKS. Editor’s note: This is an apparent reference to “dual income no kids.” Mike LaBrie asserted that you do not see kids making noise pulling out of the lot at Petey’s. A resident noted that the clientele cannot be controlled.
Roy Teigland, 30 Sagamore Rd. asked about ventilation. Editor’s note: See notes of the November 12, 2013 Planning Board meeting in which the odors and possible ventilation solutions were discussed. Mike LaBrie stated that this would be extremely expensive. Mr. Teigland stated that some odors emanate from the Serenity Café. Editor’s note: This is a small restaurant across the roundabout from the site of the proposed facility.
Mr. Teigland continued, stating that he understood progress. He asked whether the Board would support changing the zoning of residential properties in the area to business or commercial. Editor’s note: It appeared that he viewed this as a way to realize full value for his property, based on the assumption that the restaurant and other developments proposed for the area would diminish the value for residential purposes.
Kim Reed notes that it is not just the Planning Board that would decide this. There would also need to be a warrant article and a minimum of two public hearings. While there might still be time for this to happen in 2014, she would recommend that the issue be taken up with a draft next October so that it can be properly dealt with.
A resident referred to jumping on the bandwagon of the future development as the adjoining properties would be reduced in value for residential use.
Mr. Weinreib stated that, with the sewer becoming available, commercial use was becoming more viable. He stated that a citizens petitioned warrant article could be submitted, however that would be messy if it is not endorsed by the Planning Board.
Bill Epperson noted the lack of planning in the past, and cited the example of the debris from the pool excavation a mile away that had been dumped on the site and observed during the site walk. The Planning Board is getting its arms around development, he said. Petey’s is owned by a good guy, but that section, and some other areas of Town are out of control. While he does not speak for the Planning Board as a whole, he will not vote for something inconsistent with what Rye should be long term.
Ray Tweedie noted that property owners have a right to the highest and best use of their properties. Mr. Epperson added that zoning changes are a big deal. Mel Low stated that the study relating to the rotary had been a big deal. He felt that they had done the best thing for the residents with respect to that. Editor’s note: He was apparently referring to the roundabout at Foyes Corner.
Whereupon the motion to adjourn carried unanimously.