“I’m here simply to ask, to urge, that the person designing the building does so with great sensitivity,” said Dick Fenton as the planning board reviewed the site plan of a proposed Maine Maritime Academy structure on August 8.
“I recognize [Maine Maritime] Academy needs the building and…they have a prerogative to build,” said Fenton.
However, in a telephone call several days after the meeting, Director of Facilities Adam Potter said the academy had not definitely decided to even construct the building: “We haven’t finalized any plans on putting this building up yet.”
The site plan proposes a 24’x40’ structure on the Court Street side of the football field to house sports equipment; an existing 14’x14’ structure located about 120 feet east would be removed.
The proposed structure would be “very conspicuous,” Fenton said, as it lies on an historic street and abuts the historic district, which ends at the corner of Court and Pleasant streets. The football field runs along Court Street between Pleasant and Tarratine Street. “What it looks like will say something about the town and something about the academy.”
It didn’t help that the sketch of the proposed building included in the site plan showed a functional, industrial-style structure.
“One can note that it’s a very primitive drawing,” said acting Chairman Pär Kettis.
That is not the academy’s intent, said Potter, who represented MMA at the meeting but did not fill out the site plan review application. He said the proposed building would have white siding or clapboards and a shingled roof.
“The [current] building is an industrial shed. [The plan is] to take something that’s an eyesore and put something else up.”
Johanna and Pedric Sweet, abutters who live directly across the street from the proposed structure’s location, asked whether it could be moved further down the field so as not to be directly in front of their view.
“The only protected view is the public view,” said board member Bob Friedlander.
Abutter Mike Pierce, who “lives in the house [MMA President] Bill Brennan grew up in,” asked the academy to give the same consideration to the proposed storage facility as it did to the wrought iron fence surrounding the football field.
“It’s a good looking fence,” said Kettis.
“My appeal is based on the displayed sensitivity of the academy to continue,” said Pierce. “It need not be a brutal affair.”
“The planning board does not serve as an architectural review board,” said Friedlander. “Our mandate is only that it fulfills all requirements of the zoning ordinance.”
The planning board determined the submitted plan did comply with the ordinance.
Alternate member Beverly Bishop was the lone vote against approving the site plan, after Chairman Doug Wellington, who also sits on the MMA Board of Trustees, recused himself from the discussion and vote.
Bishop first asked to delay the vote, over the question posed by the Sweets whether the location could be changed, but her motion failed.
Without a legal reason for doing so, “I think it’s a bad precedent,” said board member Doris Russell.
Koos multifamily project moves one step further
In other business, Doug and Karen Koos submitted a deed description, including metes and bounds, of the site of planned multifamily dwelling units on The Shore Road. The Koos’ conceptual plan for the construction of 16 units had been approved at town meeting in June.
Variations from their previous description are the size of the building site—up to 5.02 acres from the estimated 4.5—and that the over 2.5 acres of wetland area is significantly larger than first estimated.
“It’s not a wetland of special significance,” said engineer Bill Lane, of Gartley & Dorsky of Camden, who designed the plan.
According to Lane, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, designate wetlands based on the hydrology of the soil and its vegetation and species types.
“Maine has so much wetlands, it’s an easy type to fall into,” Lane said. The wetland type in the Koos’ land requires no special setbacks, has no “high habitat function” is assigned to it, and it is suitable for construction.
“This step is not asking you to approve any plan for construction,” said Lane. He will present the specific layout of buildings and driveways for a site plan review at the board’s September meeting, along with a subdivision application.
“Then the fun starts,” said CEO Drew Marks.
Also discussed by the planning board was an upcoming public hearing on 43 proposed zoning ordinance amendments on September 12.
Wellington outlined a plan of action: to go through each very quickly for comments “from us and the audience,” and then go back to the articles that call for further discussion.
The large majority of the proposed amendments are in the land use table.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Wellington said.
Once the planning board makes its recommendations on the warrant articles to the selectmen, they will finalize the warrant for a special town meeting on September 23.
Each article will then receive “a cut-and-dried, up-and-down vote,” said Friedlander.
Thursday, September 12, planning board public hearing, 7 p.m., followed by regular meeting