Buddy’s Store, possible glampground, and Morrison Center withdrawal: Planning Board

Buddy’s Store on Sabbathday Road

| Joanne Cole |

The Planning Board heard about two possible projects, still in very preliminary stages, and the withdrawal of a pending application at their January 4 meeting. One new project would transform Buddy’s Store on Sabbathday Road, and the other would build a homestead, farm, and “glampground” on Quarry Road. In addition, a letter was shared from Morrison Center’s executive director that formally withdraws their application for a new 10-bed cottage on its property on Gloucester Hill Road. The cottage had been envisioned as a first stage of a multi-building project.

Buddy’s Store, 260 Sabbathday Road. Shane Brady came in for an informal conversation about what would be involved if he were to convert Buddy’s Store to a pub-type restaurant, perhaps with an outdoor patio. Buddy’s, a longtime landmark on Sabbathday Road, is in the Residential C and Groundwater Protection Zones. Although Buddy’s has served food, its primary identity is as a convenience store, so a pub would represent a change in use—an “eating and/or drinking establishment”—triggering formal site plan review, board members thought.

Board members outlined the review process and applicable submission requirements, highlighting items that might need particular attention. For one, the current building is nonconforming due to its limited roadside setback, Planner Natalie Thomsen said, which raises questions of how much it can or cannot be expanded.

Other topics included safe access on and off the road, including for delivery trucks, parking, setbacks, and a septic system capable of handling food waste, particularly important in the groundwater protection zone. The board encouraged Brady to investigate state liquor licenses and other permits before getting too far down the road. Brady will follow up with Code Enforcement Officer Rick Haas as his plans take shape.

Quarry Road glampground and more. Shea Gunther’s vision was harder to fit neatly into the slots of the town’s zoning ordinance. Gunther, from Portland, described his “pandemic epiphany” when he decided to become a farmer. In June, he and two partner-friends acquired 50 acres on Quarry Road. (Quarry Road is across Route 26 from Outlet Road and runs toward Raymond.) The idea is to build a homestead, establish a permaculture farm with perennial crops, and build a “glampground” (glamorous camping = more amenities and less pain than traditional camping).

Gunther has an architect and builder lined up and a survey in the works. He was here to sound out the board about applicable requirements and review.

With Gunther’s parcel located in the Farm and Forest District, the farm piece looked straightforward: “agriculture” is an allowed use needing only code officer review. “Campgrounds” are also an allowed use subject to site plan review, but as Gunther proceeded to describe a vision with several different “unique and cool” built structures—maybe a dome, a teepee, a yurt, a treehouse, a Hobbit House—any resemblance to a standard campground faded.

The ordinance also limits campgrounds to seasonal use and speaks of tents, RVs, and daily fees, members noted. They commented that Gunther’s idea sounded like a cross between a campground and a bed & breakfast. They encouraged Gunther to discuss his ideas with planner Thomsen and Code Enforcement Officer Rick Haas; the code officer makes the ‘what do we have here’ use determination.

The moon rises over marshes along Quarry Road

Morrison Center withdraws application. So that the news would be shared with the public, Thomsen read aloud a December 2, 2021 email from Mark Ryder, Executive Director of the Morrison Center. In it, Ryder formally withdrew Morrison Center’s pending application for a 10-bed residential cottage for children with disabilities at its Opportunity Farm location on Gloucester Hill Road. The cottage was one element in a multi-building residential-educational vision for the campus.

The application had raised questions about the appropriate use characterization for the project: a school, a residential facility, a live-in health care facility? The answer would determine what requirements and limitations apply, including whether Morrison Center must relocate the driveway entrance for better sightlines, and perhaps the size of the full project build-out.

In his December email Ryder wrote, “Based on the events of the past few months, it is apparent to us that by pursuing this application we risk incurring substantial administrative and project costs. As a charitable organization, we are not in a position to take on such risks at this time.” Morrison Center will weigh its options in the coming months, Ryder’s email concluded.

To watch the January 4, 2022 meeting video, click here. For Planning Board agendas and supporting documents, click here.

The Morrison Center on Gloucester Hill Road

To watch the January 4, 2022 Planning Board meeting video, click here. For meeting agendas and supporting documents, click here.