July 16, 2009
SCARBOROUGH — A controversial land swap at Pine Point was narrowly approved by the Town Council late Wednesday.
The swap will let the owners of the Lighthouse Inn provide parking in front of the motel's units, instead of on the other side of Depot Road.
Town officials said the swap will let the town provide a turnaround for drivers when they drop people off at the beach.
Pine Point residents lined up to oppose the deal during a public hearing that lasted nearly two hours.
Most said the deal is unfair because the town gains less square footage than the motel. Others said that it could reduce access to the beach and possibly cut off views of the water.
Most said that town officials did not thoroughly think out the swap.
The idea of giving the inn's owners more land than the town will get in return "is absurd," said Arlene Hurd. "That's like giving them a check."
An alternative proposed by the Pine Point Residents Association would have given the motel's owners about the same amount of land that the town would have received, and called for land to be leased, not swapped.
Gene Libby, the motel's lawyer, said that proposal wouldn't fly because the owners would probably be unable to get financing for further development if they were leasing part of the land.
Councilors were split on the proposal, with the swing vote belonging to Judith Roy, who initially said she would have liked a more specific plan for how the town would use the land that it was gaining.
However, she said she was open to being swayed to support the swap.
In the end, she voted in favor of the proposal, which passed by a 4-3 count.
The area involved is not large, but the property lines are complex.
The town owns the road, but the Truman family, which owns the motel, owned a narrow strip on the opposite side of the street for parking.
The town owns another narrow piece of land on the far side of the Trumans' old parking strip; it was acquired by the town as part of a nearby subdivision's approval.
For the Trumans, the deal means they can have guests park directly in front of the motel.
The town can connect its pieces of land and ends up with a wider stretch of road near the entrance to the area, but a narrower strip running down to the dunes and beach.
Town officials said they would like to put in a turnaround and dropoff near that entrance, although residents said they prefer being able to drive all the way to the dunes, even though that means they sometimes have to back the length of the road to get out.
Town officials said the narrow part of the road will mainly be used to provide beach access to emergency and rescue vehicles.
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:
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