The owner of the former Estes Lobster House is seeking permission to take down part of the building and convert the rest into a home.
Larry Crooker owns the South Harpswell property through Estes Properties LLC. Crooker wants to remove a 40-foot-by-30-foot section from the south end of the building.
Crooker also would remove about 1,800 square feet of pavement and “much of” the property’s fence, which consists of chunks of utility poles set in concrete, according to a Sept. 26 letter from his attorney to the Harpswell Planning Board.
“This plan will bring both the use and appearance of the building into a more harmonious relationship with the surrounding, purely residential, structures and uses,” attorney David A. Goldman, of the Portland law firm Norman Hanson & DeTroy LLC, said in the letter.
The single-family home would have about 5,000 square feet of living space and a three-car garage on the north end, Crooker said during a Planning Board site walk on Monday, Oct. 9. He said he was not sure whether he would live in, rent or sell the home.
The Planning Board will discuss the project during its next meeting, at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Town Office.
The 150-seat restaurant on Potts Harbor was last open in the summer of 2020. The building is at 1906 Harpswell Neck Road, just north of the causeway to Potts Point. The restaurant first opened in 1963, according to Goldman’s letter.
The building is “nonconforming” with present-day zoning because it is too close to both the road and the water. But it is legal because it predates the town’s zoning ordinances.
Last year, Crooker sought to convert the building into two condominiums with four to five bedrooms each. But the plan did not comply with town ordinances, and the Harpswell Board of Appeals determined that his request did not meet the criteria for an exception.
Harpswell Town Planner Mark Eyerman recently said he had met with Crooker and Goldman and expected to receive a new proposal soon.
Goldman’s seven-page letter addressed potential objections to the project. He said the project will benefit the environment and public safety, pointing out that a home will generate less traffic and produce less waste than a restaurant. Reducing the building’s size and replacing pavement with grass will cut down on stormwater runoff and improve water quality in the harbor.
“My hope and anticipation is that the current proposal … will allow Mr. Crooker, this Board, and the Town in general to bring to an end the uncertainty that has persisted regarding how the 1906 Harpswell Neck Road property can be used,” Goldman said.
Crooker said he is eager to move the project forward.
“The life expectancy of a United States citizen is 78 years old. I’ll be 80 years old next May,” he said after the site walk. “I’m just wondering if I’ll live long enough to see this through.”