A Kittery property owner hopes a pod of food trucks can breathe new life into largely paved lot. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

KITTERY, Maine — A proposal for a food truck pod just north of the Memorial Traffic Circle garnered unanimous support from the Planning Board this week.

Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

Barbara Jenny, of Green Brook LLC, owns the 230 Route 1 property home to the “mural building” that houses Lost Coast thrift store and several other creative businesses. It’s a 1.04-acre lot, much of which is a concrete jungle, and Jenny and her husband have been considering for quite a while how they can beautify it.

Jenny went before the Planning Board Thursday night with a sketch plan, depicting a three-truck “pod,” with the idea that trucks could come and go, offering a variety of foods on a varying schedule.

“You may have heard of the success of Congdon’s food truck lot up in Wells,” Jenny said. “That’s been running for about two years and it’s become quite a vibrant place. It’s a real draw for tourists and locals, and food trucks rotate through there.”

Jenny said she and her husband recently visited Congdon’s “After Dark” and were inspired by its energy. Congdon’s operates a Facebook page, she said, where it posts what food trucks will arrive each day/night.

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In addition, their son-in-law is also embarking on his own food truck journey, so the two ventures are going hand-in-hand.

“We happen to have this wonderful colorful building on this ginormous, ugly paved lot,” Jenny told the board. “We wondered for a while what can we do with all of this pavement?”

Jenny said the food truck pod would create a sense of community “in a barren landscape.” The site is the former Kittery police station.

“What we really like is this idea of a destination spot where people come and gather and commune,” she said. “We have wonderful tenants in the mural building right now. There’s creatives there. They just hosted their first open house. They’re really a dynamic group of people and they’re really in favor of this idea.”

The proposal would place three trucks on the north end of the property, along with picnic tables and planters for barriers and improved presentation. Per ordinance, they need to provide 31 parking spaces, and they have 35.

“I applaud your creativeness and ingenuity in developing a rather difficult lot,” said Planning Board member Dutch Dunkelberger. “I think this is a great use for that lot. I think it will add something to Kittery.”

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Chairwoman Ann Grinnell called it a “great idea.”

While traffic flow concerns weren’t raised at the meeting, in an earlier memo to Planning Board members, Planner Jamie Stephan wrote, “I am concerned as to the speed of vehicles on the stretch of the bypass where this use is proposed but the applicant has no control of this factor. I would recommend it be monitored by the town if this proposal is approved and moves forward.”

That particular stretch of road, leading to the Kittery Outlets, is one way, and can only be accessed coming north off the traffic circle.

The board accepted the sketch plan, while scheduling a later site walk date. The applicant will ultimately have to go before the Town Council to be granted a victualer’s license.