SOUTH PORTLAND (AP) – Errant tee shots are playing a role in the delay of construction of an $8 million four-story office building near the Maine Mall.

Pinnacle Partners of Braintree, Mass., is seeking state and local approval for a 119,000 square-foot building that would be comparable in size to the offices of Fairchild Semiconductor International off Interstate 95.

Progress on the proposed project, however, is being slowed in part because of concerns over errant golf balls sliced from the third tee at Sable Oaks Golf Club.

The office building would be nestled against the third fairway on what is currently a wooded lot.

Lawyers for Sable Oaks believe the course and office building can coexist. But they are pushing for Pinnacle to make changes to prevent possible errant golf balls from breaking car windshields or hitting people walking in the parking lots.

“A golf ball hit off a tee can be a dangerous item,” said Richard Ade, executive vice president with Sable Oaks’ ownership company.

There is no clear rule, Ade said, for who is responsible – the course or abutting property owner – for a golf ball once it is hit.

Sable Oaks hopes the two sides can resolve the issue as well as other concerns, including landscaping and water runoff.

Attorneys for Sable Oaks have approached the state Department of Environmental Protection and South Portland planners wih their concerns. State and local officials said they are looking at landscaping, right-of-ways and run off, but likely will not get involved with the issue of errant golf shots.

“That is kind of a separate issue, something the attorneys from both parties will have to work out,” said Bill Bullard, project manager for DEP.

A local representative for Pinnacle referred all questions to staff in Braintree. They did not return calls.

City Planner Charles “Tex” Haeuser and the city’s Conservation Commission have reviewed Pinnacle’s proposal . The Planning Board will walk the site next month and could vote on a site plan as early as the end of May.

“This has taken a little longer than normal. Sometimes bigger projects take longer,” Haeuser said.

AP-ES-04-11-03 0805EDT

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