Belfast finalizes amendments to Business Park, Inner Harbor wharf lines

By Ben Holbrook | Feb 11, 2014

Belfast — City officials approved an amendment to the Belfast Business Park zoning to allow Maine Maritime Products to operate a take-out restaurant at their processing and distribution facility, as well as changes to ordinances that address wharf lines in the Inner Harbor.

In January, Maine Maritime Products approached the city about the possibility of operating a take-out restaurant at their facility, which is located in the Belfast Business Park off of Route 1. However, under the existing zoning regulations at the time of the request, a restaurant was a prohibited use in that area.

At the request of councilors, City Planner Wayne Marshall amended the zoning regulations that would allow a certain manufacturing and warehouse uses to operate a restaurant as an accessory use.

According to the text of the amendment for a manufacturing or industrial use, the restaurant menu must consist of primarily products the manufacturer or industrial user produces on site; the restaurant must not have more than 24 seats; the total area that can be devoted to restaurant seating and food preparation must not exceed 33 percent of the total floor area of of the structure in which the restaurant is located; and meals must not be served after 10 p.m.

A warehouse facility can also operate three categories of a restaurant, indoor seating, outdoor seating and take-out as an accessory use. However, a minimum of 90 percent of the products stored and distributed at the warehouse must be malt, spirituous or vinous products, and the menu must feature those products.

Wharf line for Inner Harbor

Marshall explained to councilors the amendments would establish the wharf line limit for the Inner Harbor as a line which is 25 feet from the navigable channel as opposed to the existing requirement which was 100 feet from the normal high water mark.

In a memo to councilors, Marshall noted the city recently approved a project to reconstruct and expand the size of the floats at Thompson's Wharf, and that the existing floats at the facility extend beyond the 100-foot normal high water mark.

If the city wished to expand the floats to within 25 feet of the navigable channel, it would have to submit an application through the contract rezoning process, which would then be reviewed by the Harbor Committee, the Planning Board and the City Council. Marshall estimated the entire process would take more than two months to complete.

However, Marshall instead approached the Harbor Committee in January to discuss a second option to amend the existing city ordinances. Instead of having to go through the lengthier contract rezoning process, the city could instead go through the shoreland permit review.

The shoreland permit process involves review by the Harbor Committee and Planning Board and could be completed in a little more than a month's time, Marshall estimated.

During discussion about the amendments, City Councilor Mike Hurley commented that he was in favor of the 25-foot setback from the navigable channel requirement.

Councilors unanimously approved the wharf line for the Inner Harbor amendments and the amendments to the Belfast Business Park zoning.

In other business

Councilors approved a request from the Belfast Fire Chief to spend up to $16,000 to purchase a new power lift stretcher for the city's new ambulance.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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