Mc-decision by April?

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

McDonald’s corporate officials are “still evaluating” whether or not they will construct a McDonald’s restaurant on Portland Road in Bridgton on property owned by local developer Mark Lopez, according to a statement obtained by The Bridgton News late Tuesday afternoon.

“We are still evaluating the potential for a McDonald’s in Bridgton and anticipate having a final decision by April,” said Michael Kuronen, development director for McDonald’s Boston Region Feb. 7.

Reached by phone Wednesday morning, Lopez said he had last heard from McDonald’s officials just two weeks ago.

Lopez said he is still working with McDonald’s to bring a restaurant here, and he doesn’t know and has not heard of Michael Kuronen of McDonald’s Boston Region office located in Westwood, Mass.

“As far as I know, the last news I got was they had taken a look at the numbers and determined they could work with the rent number (amount) that would make the project viable,” said Lopez Feb. 8. “I’m dealing with a broker out of Atlanta (Georgia).”

The matter of having a McDonald’s and other fast food chain restaurants, as well as “big box” stores in Bridgton, became a divisive issue here, but in the end, voters defeated articles at the ballot box on March 1, 2011 that would have prohibited both. So, many citizens assumed, at that time, that because the project had already received the Bridgton Planning Board’s approval, the McDonald’s restaurant would be up and running by the spring of 2012.

DEP impact fee an issue

Lopez said one issue that has complicated matters is the $30,000 wetland impact fee imposed by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection upon the McDonald’s project.

“The DEP wouldn’t waive the $30,000 arbitrary fee imposed by them as part of wetland mitigation, even though we conserved eight acres — their letter said, ‘It didn’t meet the spirit’ of their regulations,” Lopez stated. “Quite honestly, the $30,000 impact fee compromised the economics of the project.”

Separate matter

On the other hand, Lopez said he is currently in the process of seeing how to arrange drainage in order to mitigate any wetland impact on an adjacent property just east of the site that McDonald’s would use, in anticipation of any future development there. However, he said that drainage work is separate from and not related to the development of the proposed McDonald’s location.

“We’re in the process, right now, at looking at the drainage at the adjacent lot (which now has a large residence on it),” Lopez said. The adjacent property is not under contract to him, Lopez stated.

“That property will be developed in the future,” Lopez said. “I’ve talked to the owners of the adjacent property about (their) tying into the drainage (he is doing) to make it more economically viable and more sensitive to wetlands.”

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