Planning Board favors Shorey Park rezoning

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The Bridgton Planning Board agreed Tuesday to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that the shoreland zoning map be revised to include Shorey Park in the general development dis­trict.

The rezoning, originally requested by the Community Development Committee, would allow the town to hold small public gatherings and story­time events and possibly involve some landscaping improvements and/or a nature path.

Board member Dee Miller, who also serves on the Community Development Committee, said the problem with the way the park is zoned now, resource protection zone, is that “you can’t put two stones together” without first obtaining permis­sion from the Department of Environmental Protection. She said that when the town request­ed an extension of the general development district in 2003 to make downtown improvements along Stevens Brook, the DEP expressly excluded Shorey Park because “the town didn’t offer any reason for the change.”

In order for any shore­land-zoned land in Maine to be rezoned, the state requires a detailed explanation, Miller explained.

The town had devised a plan 11 years ago drawn up by local landscaper Lucia Terry, but it involved an educational component in that a boardwalk would be built near the bridge in Shorey Park.

That plan didn’t sit well with the Shorey family, whose rep­resentative, Mary Elizabeth Shorey, met Monday with the Community Development Committee to go over her grandfather’s intentions when he bought the land and turned it over to the town 60 years ago.

On Tuesday, Mary Elizabeth Shorey said the intentions of her grandfather, Henry A. “Harry” Shorey II, in the early 1950s was “first and foremost to get rid of the derelict mill” at the site.

“It was a huge eyesore for the town,” Shorey said. “(Henry A. “Harry” Shorey II) saw the park as a serene park, not a classroom park,” and a con­templative place that would be a beautiful and attractive entrance to the town-owned beach at Highland Lake. “A boardwalk would ruin the serene view of the park,” she said.

The general development dis­trict currently ends at the scenic bridge crossing Stevens Brook. Miller said extending the dis­trict to include the park would allow the town to put vegeta­tion in the ground, which under its current zoning cannot be done. “Anything in the ground is called a structure,” she said.

The board agreed to have a representative appear before selectmen in the near future to explain the change and request that selectmen approve the rezoning. A final decision rests with the DEP, and local hearings would have to be held before the board could act on the change.

Please follow and like us: