Bridgton in a boom? Planners approve building change, hear overview of 55-lot project

NEW HOME of Main Eco Homes, along with commercial and apartment spaces, on Portland Road.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

As one construction project takes shape along Bridgton’s busy business district, another major housing development is on the horizon.

Planners Tuesday night approved a change in the Main Eco Homes building configuration at the company’s new office site on Portland Road, adjacent to Dunkin’ Donuts.

The “mixed use” building will include office space for Main Eco Homes, as well as additional commercial space and residential units. The project was approved under the town’s Site Plan Review in early March.

However, owner Justin McIver decided to reallocate space from seven commercial office units and two residential apartments to five apartments and four commercial spaces.

Adrienne Fine presented the proposed changes to planners, who had to apply standards under the town’s Subdivision and Shoreland Zoning ordinances.

Before addressing proposed projects, planners afforded the board the authority to waive standards and requirements at the requests of applicants under the town’s subdivision regulations by making a few revisions to the subdivision ordinance. Planners already had such authority under the town’s Site Plan Review ordinance.

In the past, if an applicant requested a waiver of a standard (which planners may have deemed acceptable or a good idea), that request was passed along to the Appeals Board.

Planning Board Chairman Steve Collins felt the subdivision revision would help “streamline” the review/approval process.

Fine pointed out the project was originally proposed as mixed use because the subdivision ordinance did not allow for the additional residential units.

A portion of the site is located within 75 feet of Willett Brook, making it part of the Shoreland Zone Stream Protection District.

“…Subdivision Ordinance requires that residential density standards for the Shoreland Zone apply to the entire parcel, not just the area in the Shoreland Zone. Proposed changes to the Subdivision Ordinance will allow the Planning Board to waive this requirement and approve the subdivision and proposed mix of uses,” wrote Terradyn Consultants, LLC, representing developer Justin McIver.

Fine pointed out that the property in the Shoreland Zone will not be developed and has not been disturbed during building construction.

Collins, who reviewed the proposal with Lakes Environmental Association officials, concluded no waiver was needed since nothing was proposed in the setback area.

Under the subdivision ordinance, five units would require 100,000 square feet or 2.5 acres. The site is about an acre. Because the facility will utilize town water and have a common septic, the square foot figure dropped to 5,000 square feet per unit, thus 25,000 total and in range for approval.

Planner Dee Miller felt “working or living” would have the same impact.

“It’s not as if they plan to build other things on the lot,” Miller said. “…It’s simply an interior change.”

Baker noted that the septic was designed to handle 1,200 gallons per day.

A question was raised regarding trash disposal. Transfer Station Manager Robert Fitzcharles recommended that the facility utilize a dumpster. While Fine said McIver hoped to use “bins” in a designated spot, Planner Mike Figoli sided with Fitzcharles’ recommendation, calling for a “common collection facility to be taken care of by the owner of the facility,” utilizing a dumpster “adequate in size for five units and with recycling capabilities available.”

Planners approved the plan with stipulations by a 5–0 vote. A review and acceptance of Finding of Fact and Conclusion of Law will occur at the board’s June 6 meeting.

Next up was an initial presentation by Richard Dunton of Main-Land Development Co. of Livermore Falls, representing the developer Betty Legoff of Denmark, regarding a 55-lot project (63 total units), Woods Pond Village.

An informational meeting was held last year as the group prepared to submit plans to state agencies for review.

Now, the project has landed on Bridgton planners’ table. Collins noted that the board was looking for an “overview” Tuesday night, and a more detailed presentation will be given at a public hearing.

Planners set the public hearing date of June 6, 7 p.m. at the Municipal Complex’s lower level meeting room.

A site walk at the South High Street property, located near Snow Valley off Route 117, has been scheduled for Saturday, May 13, at 10 a.m. The site walk is also open to interested members of the public.

Baker said the site is 1.3 miles from Woods Pond beach boat landing heading back “toward town,” as measured in his Toyota truck.

Key points made in the overview included:

  • The “vision” is to offer “affordable” homes to those over 50 years old, who are considering downsizing into smaller housing. The units will be one floor. Legoff pointed out that a price range has yet to be finalized due to uncertainty of final development and construction costs, at this time.
  • The home and lot will be sold as a pair, with a local construction company handling the building. The project will be divided into “phases.”
  • The property will be divided into an East and West section. Day Brook will separate the two developments. Each will have its own roadway — Topaz and Amethyst Streets — which connects to Route 117. To create a “community” feel, a bridge — walking or capable of handling golf carts — will be built to provide passage over Day Brook. Each “side” would have its own “association.”
  • The east side will offer residential units of 40,000 square feet and above. The west side will be a cluster development of 36 lots consisting of units 5,000 to 15,000 square feet, utilizing “common facilities” such as a public well and septic fields.

Planners opened the discussion to the public in attendance. One resident expressed concern regarding vehicles pulling out of Amethyst Street onto Route 117, which is a 45 mph zone.

Dunton, who is director of engineering for Main-Land Development, noted the Maine Department of Transportation has reviewed preliminary plans, but has yet to issue an access permit. Bridgton Police Chief Richard Stillman has also expressed some concern regarding visibility there.

Planners also questioned whether the two roads could be “connected.” In Baker’s opinion, the ordinance does not require that the two roadways be connected, yet from a safety standpoint (the ability for residents to exit the development in case of fire or disaster as emergency vehicles entered), planners posed whether the two streets could be joined. Due to wetlands and inclusion of common areas and buildings, a “connection” was unlikely.

Planners asked Legoff and Dunton to indicate on maps housing units’ positions. “Flags” will be in place to indicate lots and common areas when the site walk is conducted.

In other news,

  • Tasting room. Planners tabled action on a proposal by Adam Tuuri to open Bear Bones Inc., to be located in the new commercial building at 2 Cottage Street.

Tuuri described his business venture as “barrel aging, blending and bottle facility with tasting room.” It will occupy the same building as the Bavarian Chocolate Haus.

Code Officer Rob Baker said the amount of seating has to be determined so the town can then see what the business’ sewer allocation would be. The project could return to planners for review at their June meeting.

  • Projects move forward. Successfully being reviewed under the Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law, planners voted 5-0 to approve projects Armonice (rental of pods and other space to legal and compliant medical and other marijuana growers and cultivators at a building located at 527 Portland Road) and Breakroom 248 (arcade, pool, bar and pub fair by Spyro Hronarakis and Dan Edwards at 248 Main Street, adjacent to the Thai Restaurant).
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