Lighthouse Inn land swap request dropped

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Lighthouse Inn owners Peter and Nicholas Truman have dropped their request to swap land with the town and are now asking only for permission to renovate the inn into condominiums. The request will be considered at Wednesday’s Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, after the Current’s deadline.

According to Andy Hyland, principal of Port City Architects, which is designing the proposal, the land swap, which he prefers to call “the road relocation,” is only complicating the issue and it is not necessary for the conversion to move forward.

“It’s been way too confusing for everybody,” Hyland said. “I think I’ve had a lot of people say we like the conversion they just didn’t like the road relocation.”

The town first asked for the land swap because it saw an opportunity to fix what was a longstanding problem. This in turn led the Trumans to request the land swap from the Town Council, which was amenable to the idea when it was first discussed.

“It was kind of a good idea that came out of a meeting with the town,” Hyland said.

Town Manager Ron Owens said the swap was an opportunity to straighten out the beach access issue on Pine Point Road. During the summer, the end of the road is barricaded because of the inn’s parking. The swap would have moved the road 18 feet away from the inn and provided enough room for parking in front of the building.

This would have allowed the removal of the barricades, giving residents better beach access and perhaps even some limited parking. At the very least the change would have given residents a drop-off point.

“We tried to make sure we’re getting the same value we’re giving away,” Owens said.

The Trumans are requesting permission to convert and expand the nonconforming 22-unit motel into a six-unit condominium from the Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as for permission to add a third story.

The building will remain in the same footprint and will bring a non-complying property into better compliance with town ordinances, Hyland said. The third floor will still fall under the 35-foot height limit set by the town.

“I think it will be a nice project for the area,” Hyland said.

The Zoning Board initially discussed the issue at its meeting last month, but decided to table it because of what the board felt was a lack of information.

Another area of contention with the project is the business office, which will be converted into one of the six units. At the last Zoning Board meeting people said the appeal that allowed the construction of the freestanding unit did not allow for its conversion into a residential use.

But Code Enforcement Officer David Grysk said it could be converted into a single-family use if the property’s use changes with it. The restriction on the unit is only while the property is being used as a business.

“If they change the use all bets are off and you are back to square one,” Grysk said.

Underneath it all it seems that the residents’ main concern is the possible future development of the seven-acre lot across the street from the Lighthouse Inn, according to Dianna Fletcher, community relations representative for Port City Architects. That parcel is owned by the Trumans’ mother.

It will be very difficult to develop the property, Hyland said. Of the approximately seven acres there only about three are usable under town ordinances. In addition, any developer would have to deal with the DEP to get further permits because of the sand dunes, he said.

He said he did investigate the issue for one buyer, but the individual stopped pursuing the purchase because of the regulations and the unknowns regarding the parcel’s development. Owens said there is nothing in front of the town regarding its development.

Another issue that has been raised is whether the Lighthouse Inn is for sale. There is currently a listing for the property, and for the seven-acre parcel next door, on mainebeachfront.com, but both Fletcher and Hyland said the Lighthouse property is not for sale.

“Basically they want to develop it before they sell it,” Fletcher said. “I think Peter really wanted to develop it and keep with within the character of Pine Point before it changes hands.”

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