Planning Board members unanimously agreed to send a contract zoning request forward to the City Council last week, the first official step toward allowing developer Paul Naron to create two new restaurants and a marina, as well as to relocate United Farmers Market.

Naron owns 7 Front St. and 15 Front St., as well as the nearby current site of United Farmers Market at 18 Spring St. The two Front Street properties are adjacent to each other and formerly were owned by French & Webb and Consumer Fuels.

Both are in zoning districts that require reviews consistent with the contract rezoning process. The Planning Board, Intown Design Review Committee and Harbor Committee all made recommendations, but the City Council will make the final decision, possibly in February. The council will host additional public hearings on Naron’s proposal.

Because it is oceanfront property, Naron’s applications must also be approved by Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and meet state land use and submerged lands restrictions.

On Jan. 9, the Planning Board heard updated plans from Bill Lane of Gartley and Dorsky, representing Naron, who was also present. Many of the changes were to the marina portion, including the addition of a ramp that would be used to remove marina floats before severe weather.

The existing buildings will see few exterior changes, City Planner Sadie Lloyd Mudge said, adding the city’s Intown Design Review Committee has approved the plans. There will be no height changes, or view changes for neighbors, she said. As well, the Harbor Walk, which runs through both properties, will remain open for public use.

Lloyd Mudge said the properties have room for a maximum of 64 parking spaces, which is well below the code-recommended 159. However, she noted, use of the buildings will be staggered — the restaurants will not be open at the same time as the farmers market — and the area is easily accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists and is near public parking lots.

Snow will be removed from the lot to keep as many parking spaces available as possible, without pushing snow illegally into the harbor, Lloyd Mudge said. No fuel will be stored at the site for marina use.

Naron said he hopes to begin property improvements this year. Lane added it might be three to five years before the project is complete.

Director of Planning and Codes Wayne Marshall said the Harbor Committee recommends use of quick disconnects for the floats as well as mooring blocks, but the committee did not include them as a condition of approval.

There was some debate about allowing hand-carry vessels such as kayaks or a sailboat dinghy to use the ramp intended for emergency float removal. There is one rack already on the property for kayak storage. Lane suggested the small vessels could be stored under a deck or in another area that would not interfere with parking.

Marshall said the Harbor Committee considered use of the ramp as it relates to the harbor but said the Planning Board must also consider use of the ramp with respect to the parking limitations of the site.

Naron clarified he only is asking for vessels stored on the property — none brought by an individual on a vehicle — to be allowed to use the ramp to launch.

Ultimately, the Planning Board agreed to make several recommendations to the City Council, including  allowing small vessels to use the ramp. Lloyd Mudge pointed out that contract rezoning is issued to the owner, not the property, so if Naron sold the property, its new owner would have to come back to the Planning Board, even if the use did not change.