OGUNQUIT — A proposed zoning change brought before the Planning Board last month could pave the way for a major renovation and expansion at the historic 86-year-old Ogunquit Playhouse.
Bradford Kenney, executive artistic director for the Playhouse, told Planning Board members during last month's workshop that plans for expansion will preserve the iconic front lawn and look of the Playhouse, while bringing much needed amenities and enhancements to theater.
Kenney said restrooms that can accommodate guests without having to go outside are a priority, along with an indoor space for events that would replace the tent used each summer.
“We are very excited to be in the beginning phases of renovating our beloved Playhouse,” Marketing Director Cheryl Farley said. “As we move forward, our top priority is to preserve the integrity of this iconic landmark, and in the process, make the need-based upgrades discussed at the workshop.”
John Bannon, attorney for the Playhouse, said the Ogunquit Playhouse Foundation board has been working on a master plan for the past several years that includes updating and expanding facilities to ensure that it remains viable into the future.
Under current zoning laws the master plan cannot be implemented, he said, and during the workshop he outlined the proposed “Route 1 Southern Corridor General Development District II” that would rezone the property.
The proposed zoning changes would create a shoreland general development district. It is not a contract zone, Bannon assured the public and the board, something Ogunquit residents have not had an appetite for in the past.
“This would be the least intrusive way to approach the zoning,” said Ogunquit Planning consultant Lee Jay Feldman. Feldman said that through the ordinance changes and the approval process they would encourage low impact development standards for the project.
Feldman said he will work with Bannon to develop the proposed ordinance changes over the next two weeks. The next Planning Board workshop is slated for 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14. This meeting is open to the public, and public input is encouraged. The meeting will be televised.
Bannon told the Planning Board the Playhouse is hoping to get the proposed zoning changes on the ballot for voters in June.
A finalized timeline for the project is pending the outcome of the approval process with the town, according to Farley.
“Throughout this process, we look forward to being good stewards of the Ogunquit community, working closely with the town and various stakeholders to ensure this renovation is something we can all be proud of,” she said.