CHATHAM – Especially during Friday nights in the summer, when the Chatham Band performs at nearby Kate Gould Park, the north side of Chatham Bars Avenue is lined with vehicles, many of them parked up against a stockade fence along property owned by Chatham Bars Inn.
Planning Board member Robert Dubis wants to make sure those parking spaces aren't lost under a new proposal by the inn to use the former bowling alley property at 20 Chatham Bars Ave. for storage and maintenance. A compromise plan hammered out between neighbors of the property and the inn includes moving the fence away from the road and planting trees in front of it.
“We need every parking space we have in this town,” he said.
Attorney Michael Ford, representing the Polhemus and Baldwin families, said there will probably be more space for cars to pull off the road if the plan is implemented, since both the fence and the proposed trees will be farther away from the road surface than the fence is currently.
“We thought we were improving it in terms of the parking,” he said.
The inn was before the planning board last Tuesday requesting to amend a 1999 site plan for the property. The proposal is aimed at resolving a lawsuit over the land's use currently in court, said inn attorney Andrew Singer. Town officials, town counsel, inn General Manager John Speers and the neighbors are all on board with the proposal, he said.
Under the plan, the inn would use the warehouse building for storage and maintenance in conjunction with the resort's operation. Neighbors have agreed to limited hours of operation and screening of the building. Few changes, other than some cosmetic upgrades, are proposed for the structure; the new fence will be added along with eight- to 10-foot trees along the street side. The existing western entrance will be closed off and all traffic will enter and exit the property from the western side of the building, said Sean Riley of Coastal Engineering.
As part of the proposal, the building will be made accessible and drainage will be added to the property. Currently, said Riley, runoff from the parking area and the roof of the building drains onto Chatham Bars Avenue. Along with the storage, the building will contain an office and workshop. Up to three of the inn's boats will be stored outside, and more may be kept inside. There will be no more than three employees working in the building.
Ford credited CBI with its willingness to work with neighbors to forge a compromise.
“Without that attitude, frankly, to get this done, I would probably not be here,” he said.
The inn sued the town last year after the zoning board of appeals rejected a request to continue use of the building as a warehouse. The town had ordered the inn to stop using the building, which is located in a residential zone, because, officials said, its zoning protection had lapsed. Originally built by the inn in 1914 as a garage, the building went through many uses over the years, Singer said, including as a bowling alley. It was converted to a warehouse in the 1970s and has been used as storage since then.
The proposal must also pass muster with the zoning board. A hearing is scheduled for May 4, said Singer.
The planning board voted to continue the hearing on the amended site plan until Tuesday, April 25.