Planning Board approves additional seating request at Marshall Wharf Brewing Company
Belfast — Planning board members approved a request to allow additional seating on an existing second floor deck of the Marshall Wharf Brewing Company building.
Owner David Carlson said when he and his wife renovated the building in 2007, they added the second floor deck. Originally, he said he and his wife believed a tenant would lease that space, but that deal did not pan out.
He explained customers of the brewery have expressed an interest in being able to enjoy their beer or snack outside, and the second floor deck would provide patrons with a view of the Harbor Walk and a portion of the harbor.
As customers exit the entrance to the brewery's tasting room, they could walk around the corner of the building to an existing staircase to access the upper deck, Carlson said. The upper deck would have up to 18 stools, but would primarily be a standing space, Carlson said.
Carlson stated the space would also be for seasonal use, as customers would not be outside during the winter months.
He also noted he and his wife would like to rebuild the railing along the upper deck to include a drink rail with a backsplash to prevent any glassware from falling down below.
No one spoke for or against the application during a brief public hearing.
During discussion regarding the seating application, Assistant City Planner Sadie Lloyd stated she received a letter from an abutting property owner who supported the Carlsons' request for additional seating at the brewery.
While board members did not have an issue with the additional seating, they did debate whether they should grant a waiver to Carlson that would exempt him from having to provide additional parking, or if they could utilize a temporary zoning amendment that allows restaurants to expand their seating by up to 25 percent without requiring additional parking.
As board members discussed the issue, a question was raised about whether the waiver or using the temporary ordinance amendment was a better option. Lloyd said either option was fine and it was up to board members as to which one they wanted to use.
City Planner Wayne Marshall noted the ordinance amendment contains a sunset provision, which would take effect in 2016, stating if the city council chooses not to reenact the amendment, the amendment is eliminated. However, the sunset provision would not impact any seating approved by the planning board, Marshall said.
Lloyd pointed out that Carlson would be using about 56 percent of the allowed 25 percent seating expansion, and if he required more seating in the future, the planning would have the option to grant him a parking waiver.
Board members then voted to approve the seating request under the 25 percent expansion ordinance amendment.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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