Construction on McDonald’s starting soon?

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

Construction was expected to begin this week at the site on Portland Road where a McDonald's restaurant is planned.

Big Macs and fries will likely be available sometime in the near future, now that developer Mark Lopez of ML Properties, LLC has been issued a building permit by the Town of Bridgton.

"We started clearing trees this week," Lopez said Wednesday morning.

Asked when the McDonald's restaurant would be scheduled to open, Lopez replied, "It will be open, as soon as it's done — I don't mean to be evasive. This is the first time I've ever worked with McDonald's."

Open by late October?

"They (McDonald's) would like to be open in late October, but I do not believe that's a realistic timeframe, given we weren't allowed to begin construction until July," Lopez said July 18. "They (McDonald's) are tentatively set to open on October 25th."

$20,000 In Lieu Fee due upfront

However, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's official order, issued last month and granting a permit for the project, requires that Lopez pay a reduced In Lieu Fee (ILF) of $20,000, prior to construction, which he did in order to be able to have a building permit issued to him by the Town of Bridgton.

Bridgton Code Enforcement Officer Baker said that, due to the conditions set forth in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' approval of Lopez's site for the future McDonald's restaurant, construction could not commence until July 15 or after.

"I could have started this in June," Lopez said further, "but given my Army Corps of Engineers order, I wasn't able to — the Army Corps' order says work must be done between July 15 and October 15, as that is historically a dry time."

Again, Lopez stated, "If I could have started a month earlier, October 25th would have been a realistic date."

Lopez was granted a Maine Department of Environmental Protection last month, with conditions. He had sought to have the $30,000 in lieu fee imposed by the DEP for wetland impacts eliminated, in order to make the project economically feasible. However, one of the conditions in the DEP's land use permit approval was that Lopez pay an in lieu fee of $20,000, or  $10,000 less than originally assessed.

According to the DEP Order, a previous permit granted to Lopez allowed him to "alter 19,668 square feet of forested wetland to construct the commercial retail project...Prior construction on the retail lumber site required filling of 10,127 square feet of wetland area, for a cumulative total of 29,795 square feet of wetland impact from the entire project." It states further, "Wetland impact for the revised project design will remain unchanged at 19,668 square feet."

At the time of the DEP's original approval, Lopez had two alternatives in addressing the wetland impact issue. The first way was by protecting an off-site 8.35-acre parcel of land with a deed restriction which would prohibit future alteration or development of the land. Lopez submitted a copy of the recorded deed restriction to the DEP's Bureau of Land and water Quality, in March of this year.

The second way Lopez could compensate for the wetland impact was by making a payment to the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Fund (MNRCF).

The DEP Order states, "Due to the amount of wetland impact resulting from the project, the applicant was required to obtain approval under the Maine General Permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE). To account for lost wetland functions and values which were not addressed under the more stringent compensation requirements of the USACOE, the applicant elected to participate in the In Lieu Fee (ILF) wetland compensation program by making a payment of $30,000 to the MNRCF."

After his request to have the ILF eliminated, in order to make the project financially feasible, the USACOE staff reviewed and reconsidered the proposed compensation package and subsequently issued the General Permit approving an ILF payment of $20,000.

"The Department finds that the revised compensation package meets the requirements of Chapter 310, the Wetlands and Waterbodies Protection Rules, and concurs with the reduction of the ILF payment to $20,000," the Order states. "Payment of the In Lieu Fee must be submitted to the MNRCF through the USACOE prior to the start of construction."

All other findings of fact, conclusions and conditions remain as approved in the original and subsequent orders, according to the DEP's June approval.


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