Brandy Crossing project questions remain; planners to hold site walk on Sept. 11

THE FORMER CLUBHOUSE of the Naples Golf Course & Country Club is now a private residence. Developer Paul Hollis appeared before the Planning Board on Tuesday with details of how Brandy Crossing subdivision will be built on the front nine of the defunct golf course. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The developer said he would address abutter-sensitive aspects of the Brandy Crossing project, and he did.

The abutters, too, expressed their concerns about a subdivision development where the Naples Golf Course once operated. The golf course closed after a board of directors’ vote in December 2017.

The concerns centered on a new connector road that has already experienced an influx of traffic this summer. One abutter mentioned that headlights from the existing entrance and exit shine into her home, keeping her up at night. Another abutter brought up the loss of a quiet swimming area, where docks with multiple boat slips would go. The director of the Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) addressed methods to keep phosphorous out of Brandy Pond and urged the developer to work with a third party, Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD).

Developer Paul Hollis, who owns Great Lots of Maine, said one of his priorities is listening to the needs of the abutters — the people who have invested time and money into the homes and yards they thought would remain adjacent to a golf course.

On Tuesday night, Hollis said he hoped to get preliminary approval for the subdivision project that he has worked on for the past six months, “finding out exactly what we could do and shouldn’t do.”

The Naples Planning Board did not grant preliminary approval.

Planning board member Jimmy Allen summed it up, saying “There are a lot of questions still, as well as wanting a site walk there. We can’t do a preliminary approval tonight.”

The site walk will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m., which is one hour before the planning board convenes for its next regularly-scheduled meeting.

Definitely, the majority of the meeting was spent talking about whether or not to construct a road that is wider than the town’s standards, making the paved thoroughfare 20-feet wide instead of the required 18 feet, with three-foot shoulders on either side.

CONCERNS ABOUT ROAD — Developer Paul Hollis (on left) talks to Brandy Crossing subdivision abutter Sherman Lahaie following the Naples Planning Board meeting on Tuesday. (De Busk Photo)

On one hand, more width would allow trucks with boat trailers in tow to comfortably pass other oncoming vehicles — a point initially brought up by planning board member Jim Krainin and endorsed by Allen.

On the other hand, a newly-paved road with an increased width might encourage drivers to speed in the future subdivision. This concern was voiced by both planning board members and abutters in the audience.

A resident of Fairway Drive said, “I look at this now as a neighborhood. The people who live there are pet owners, have children, have bicycles. There is going to be 80 human beings living in this area.”

“Many are summer residents,” he said, adding those people will have to be informed about the importance of driving more slowly.

“My only reason is safety,” he said. “My grandchildren will come to visit. If they are going to ride their bicycles on the street, this old man is going with them.”

“I have lived there for two years now. It is now a neighborhood. It is the biggest one going into Naples right now. It is only smart to see that it is done properly,” he said.

He cited an example of people driving 35 mph on the current narrow road while looking elsewhere at lots for sale and almost running into a boulder.

Many abutters confirmed they have witnessed traffic in the neighborhood increase dramatically. One resident complained about living in a “dust storm” this summer.

“My big concern is the speed limits in there.  I have complained. I have posted a ‘Slow’ sign. We have children in the house. Some of the trucks go barreling through there,” said one property owner.

“The speed is going to increase and increase,” she concluded.

Hollis said, “You put signs out to encourage people to drive slowly.”

Other issues of primary concern were: the construction of two docks with 10 slips and six slips, the development of a pathway that leads to boat slips on Brandy Pond, the preservation of a swimming area, and the manicured golf-course lawn that is scheduled to be mowed twice a year so that natural vegetation can takeover.

Considering the close proximity to Brandy Pond, the development will be designed to keep phosphorous out of the soil as much as possible.

Civil Engineer Dustin Roma, who was hired by Hollis, offered up the details to the board.

“We have spent the bulk of our time working with the [Department of Environmental Protection] DEP, working on a mutual agreement for the phosphorous” budget, he said.

“DEP has always looked at this as one big site. The front nine predated the phosphorous allocation. They had to bring in the phosphorous experts from Augusta [to assist in creating] a path forward for our phosphorous budget,” Roma said. “We will construct three phosphorous basins. There is not a whole lot of phosphorous that is going to drain off the site untreated.”

Later during the discussion, LEA Director Colin Holme touched on several topics.

“I do disagree that infiltration doesn’t require that much maintenance. Infiltration is one of those things that can clog up and infiltrate,” Holme said

“The DEP is swamped in getting these applications. Their mantra is: ‘Be sure it is filled out correctly.’ Therefore, a third party is needed for big subdivisions,” Holme said, recommending that Hollis use CCSWCD.

Roma said, “I am sorry if I gave the impression that storm water infiltration basins don’t need maintenance. IB’s have the highest removal, a higher reliability. Maintenance will be a very important issue on this.”

He said Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District has already been consulted.

Naples Code Enforcement Officer Renee Carter said she had been in contact with CCSWCD Assistant District Engineer Adam Sellick.

“Adam was on board with the stormwater plan. That is what he told me. He is comfortable with the state’s [DEP’s] review,” Carter said.

Holme said he wanted to view the details of the aquatic structures — something that was coordinated by Hollis’ lawyer David Perkins and the Town of Naples law firm.

The docks, which will offer potential buyers mooring for their boats, have to comply with state law. Also, the town recently revised its aquatic structure ordinance.

The docks would be owned by a nonprofit corporation, according to both Perkins and Hollis.

The plans call for “two docks with multi-slips, 10 slips on one, six on another. There is one lone dock. There is 25 feet per boat with extra leftover,” Hollis said.

“These are plenty of abutter-sensitive projects when we go to put docks down there. We met with everybody. I have met with homeowners there,” he said. “We haven’t finalized the location of the docks.”

Another topic that Holme talked briefly about was the taxation of common space, which the town cannot do.

“I heard open space mentioned. Open space is something that the public has access to. From a tax perspective, tax other lots for the use of that land. Should your accessor not understand that connection, you won’t be getting that revenue,” Holme said.

Hollis has said the future subdivision will produce revenue.

Based on a tax bill of about $8,500 for a home on Fairview Drive that sold for $599,900 last year, having homeowners living in the proposed 17 lots could generate approximately $144,500 or more in tax revenue for the Town of Naples.

Hollis said he had a reputation for responsible development and compromising with existing abutters.

“The thing that is going to make this work is that those buyers are educated,” Hollis said.

“When we come up with a maintenance plan, there will be a group that is in charge of stormwater, cleaning out the culverts, he said. “We have to educate the buyers. I have done this in the past, and I will do it here also.”

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