CONWAY — Following through on a court order to revisit the issue of parking for a Market Basket proposed for North Conway, the Conway Planning Board reaffirmed last Thursday that the parking standard used was adequate when it gave conditional site-plan approval last Nov. 8 to the proposed 69,845-square-foot grocery store between Barnes Road and Common Court.
The board also unanimously approved a waiver request made by the applicant (the owners of Settlers Green — Rock Development LLC, Barnes Development LLC, Settlers’ R2, Inc. and 13 Green Street Properties LLC — to not mandate another 48 parking spaces.
The May 23 public hearing was the result of a ruling last month by Carroll County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius after Bellevue Properties (owner of the nearby North Conway Grand Hotel) sued the town to try to halt the project, which it claims would hurt the hotel's business.
In April, she ruled mostly in favor of the planning board but directed the board to revisit parking, questioning whether the board relied on the 1982 Urban Land Institute standard or the less stringent 1999 version of the ULI.
As the Sun reported last month, Ignatius affirmed much of the planning board’s approval and said the court did not require a new application for the project. But she did tell the board to make sure the number of spaces follows recognized planning standards.
Peter Malia of Hastings Law Office of Fryeburg, Maine, represented the town of Conway. After the meeting, he said he was glad the board agreed that the 1999 Urban Land Institute parking requirements were more applicable "and allowed the applicant (Settlers Green) to use the 1999 parking standards, which don’t require those additional 48 spaces."
Mark Lucy of White Mountain Survey Co. Inc. of Ossipee, project civil engineer for Settlers Green, said both the 1999 substitution request and the waiver request were submitted with the original application but the planning board had never acted on it.”
Malia said he will send minutes of the board’s decision to Ignatius, adding, “Whether or not attorney (Roy) Tilsley (of Bernstein Shur of Manchester, representing Bellevue Properties Inc.) appeals this decision remains to be seen.”
In addition to attorneys Malia and Tilsley, also present was Settlers Green's lawyer, Derek Lick of Sulloway and Hollis of Concord.
Six members of the public were also in attendance, including an abutter, Nanci Neenan.
Selectmen’s representative Steve Porter, explained that the town has leaned more toward the 1999 ULI standard in recent years because the 1982 standard is a bit of overkill when it comes to required parking.
He said that although the North Conway Grand pushed hard on the 1982 standard, "we have been using the 1999 standard in recent years because ... we have learned that too much (parking) is not a good thing. The 1982 ULI standard came right after we adopted zoning in 1980 — but look, for example, at Lowe’s or Shaw’s: they meet the 1982 standard, in the town’s site plan review regulations but over the years we have gone with the 1999 standard because of the simple fact that you don’t need all that parking. Even at the hotel, look at all of that parking in the back that hardly ever gets used.”
He added that it has been the planning board’s thought process “to promote a little more green space as opposed to having too much parking.”
Lucy said that 768 spaces were set aside for the Settlers Green Streetside (just west of the site of the proposed Market Basket), with 33 for the adjacent Merlino’s Family Steakhouse for a total of 801. Lucy said the grocery store would need 280 spaces out of the total.
Bellevue contended through its attorney Tilsley that 849 were required under the 1982 ULI standards, but Settlers Green said the 801 figure would be adequate under the 1999 standard.
He argued that the additional 48 spaces are required because of the possibility of a food establishment/cafe in the new grocery store.