Former restaurant new site for Grace Academy

by Mary Grow

Thanks to Norman Elvin, Grace Academy has a permanent new home in the former Norm’s Restaurant at 363 Route 3.

Executive Director Michelle Bourque got a permit from the China Planning Board on June 16 to open the school in the building, which has a varied history of commercial uses.

Norm’s Seafood and Chicken restaurant

The former Norm’s Seafood and Chicken restaurant on Rte. 3 will become the new home for Grace Academy, thanks to Norm Elvin’s donation of the property to the school. Photo by Roland D. Hallee

Bourque said she plans to start full operation in the fall, although she might offer a summer athletic program.  The private academy operates mainly mornings, catering to home-schooling families. About 20 families and more than 70 students are involved, she said, with 15 to 25 students typi-cally present at one time.

She would like to add an after-school tutoring program – the booths that served restaurant cus-tomers will make suitable private spaces – and an evening driver education program.

Planning board members found the building, which was extensively rebuilt in 2012, septic sys-tem  water supply, parking areas and landscaping met all town requirements and unanimously approved the permit.

Elvin is founder and president of G & E Roofing, in Augusta. He also owned the China Dine-ah, and after selling it briefly operated the diner on Route 3.

Bourque said Elvin donated the building to the school, along with the restaurant equipment for the school to sell or use.  She praised his extensive fire safety system, which she said favorably impressed the state fire marshal who inspected the premises.

Once located in the old Farrington’s store, the academy has recently moved from one location to another while Bourque tried to find a building to buy or rent long-term.

The other item on the June 16 planning board agenda was a public hearing and final action on George and Pamela Jackson’s application to amend the Arrowhead Subdivision on Amelias Way, off Pleasant View Ridge Road, by dividing one lot into two.  No one attended the hearing; surveyor David Wendell presented test pit results for the new lot; Codes Officer Paul Mitnik said no other issues remained from the board’s May 24 discussion; and the application was approved unanimously.

The board has scheduled a public hearing on proposed shore-land zoning amendments for Tuesday evening, July 26. Mitnik said the proposed amendments are on the town’s web site, with explanations.

Changes are also under consideration to the sign ordinance and the conditional use criteria, but with only three board members present, discussion was postponed.

Mitnik added another possible ordinance change to a future agenda: selectmen, he said, are discussing a boardwalk and other improvements at the causeway at the head of China Lake’s east basin, where people launch boats and fish from the shore.  Mitnik doubts the legality of a board-walk so close to the water, but he suggested fishing platforms might be permissible if the local shoreland ordinance were amended.

The next regular Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, June 28.


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