Eco Estates condo complex wins preliminary okay

NW 39 brid plan board

ECO VILLAGE FOR EMPTY NESTERS — Engineer George Sawyer describes Eco Estates, an eight-unit condominium project of detached two-bedroom homes to be built on 6.6 acres around a cul-de-sac off of the Portland Road, across from Sandy Creek Road. Sawyer is pointing to land fronting Portland Road that Main Eco Homes owner Justin McIver and Mark Lopez set aside in 2011 for commercial development. Access to Eco Estates would be provided by a 500-foot paved road, shown to the left of his hand, that will eventually be built out to provide access to the 100 acres McIver and Lopez own in back, under their Vista Investments partnership.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The Bridgton Planning Board gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a plan by Main Eco Homes owner Justin McIver’s plan to build an eight-unit condominium project for ages 55 and older off of the Portland Road, starting next spring.

McIver, just named Small Business Owner of the Year by the Greater Bridgton Chamber of Commerce, is calling the project Eco Estates, because each of the one-story detached homes would be designed to conserve energy and be less expensive to operate and maintain. The empty-nester project would be built on a 6.6-acre parcel behind the four-lot commercial subdivision that McIver and fellow developer Mark Lopez created in 2011 across from Sandy Creek Road.

Access to the project would be provided by construction of a 500-foot paved road that would run to the left of the commercial land and tie into a second road, where a sign would mark the entrance, leading to a large cul-de-sac. Each of the two-bedroom homes would be built around this cul-de-sac. Buyers will own the homes, while all the surrounding land will be in common ownership under the name Eco Estates LLC.

The homes would be on town water and served by hydrants and underground utilities. Two onsite septic systems would serve all eight homes. Runoff would be controlled by construction of five underdrained ponds that would capture the water and release it in a controlled manner to wetlands. Rock-filled trenches would be built along the eaves of all of the homes to additionally control runoff. McIver plans solar rooftop panels to provide part of the homes’ energy needs, and will be custom-building the homes to meet owners’ needs, including concerns for handicapped accessibility.

Abutter Steve Zogoulos, whose property is located just south on the Portland Road, wanted assurances that the project would not add more runoff onto his land, which is mainly wetland in back.

“I already have enough of a water problem on my own land,” Zogoulos said.

George Sawyer, the engineer for the project, said all of the homes will be built on a knoll and that the natural flow of water is currently to the rear, toward Otter Pond, and that won’t change.

“What we’ve done with the (underdrain) ponds is to control the peak amount of runoff to no more than what it is now,” Sawyer said. “We’re flowing away from your property,” he told Zogoulos. “We’re not pumping, it’s all gravity flow.”

A second abutter, Nancy Arris, lives on the north side of the proposed 500-foot road. “I’m just concerned,” she said. Sawyer assured her the road would be built to town standards. Initially, plans called for underground utilities along the 500-foot road, but McIver said he decided to go with overhead utility lines instead.

Sawyer said the 500-foot road would eventually be extended to access the large tract of back land that McIver and Lopez bought from Herbert Ginn in 2011 under their Vista Investments partnership, from which both Eco Estates and the commercial subdivision was carved.

Tuesday’s tentative approval came with several conditions. Fire Chief Glen Garland has concerns that the cul-de-sac would not allow quite enough of a turning radius for fire trucks, so a waiver will be needed on road standards in the town’s subdivision rules. Also, E-911 Addressing Officer Dawn Taft didn’t like the road name of “Main Eco Way” for the 500-foot access road, because of the use of the word “Main” is also used in “Main Street,” and two roads cannot use the same word in their name under addressing rules.

McIver also needs to provide proof of financial capacity prior to final approval, and the plans need to provide additional buffering next to one of the underdrain ponds.

Other than their technical concerns, board members generally had praise for the project, which is the first residential condominium project approved in town.

Member Dee Miller said, “It’s nice to see some new housing added in our town,” with Fred Packard adding, “I’m happy. I do think it’s time for someone to step forward to do this.”

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