ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth Planning Board approved one major use site development in a meeting Wednesday and is nearing the goal line on another.
Development plans have been approved for a new storage facility to be built at 314 Bucksport Road. The board came close to doing the same for an apartment project that includes new units on Foster Street and Oriole Way but will take additional time to finalize details.
The board’s first order of business was approving a 9,600-square-foot self-storage facility on Bucksport Road. The four-building project proposed by Selena and Burnie Gordon will be built on a 3.09-acre property adjacent to Out-O-Town Auto Sales and Ronnie’s Truck Services.
Plans included the removal of a small detention pond behind the proposed buildings. After receiving a signed easement to drain the water off the property, the builders intend to build plunge pools between the units into an additional pond.
“This is a little different from what we had proposed a month ago,” said Steve Salsbury, a surveyor representing the Gordons. “We were negotiating with the adjoining owner to essentially drain the water directly into the flowage that’s 40 feet or so behind the property.”
The board also is nearing a decision on a new apartment project that will see a Portland-based development company build a new location and expand on an existing one. Developers Collaborative, which completed Oriole Way Apartments in late 2018, is looking to build onto its existing facility as well as build another behind Shaw’s on Foster Street.
Under the current proposal, Developers Collaborative would build a pair of 12-unit apartment buildings with rents of about $1,300 per month at the Foster Street location. The Oriole Way Apartments expansion would see the addition of a 29-unit facility restricted to tenants 55 and older at rents of around $730 per month.
To meet Ellsworth’s sight distancing requirements, Developers Collaborative will have to fix vegetation issues at both locations. A traffic engineer told the group that two trees at the intersection of Oriole Way and Washington Street must be removed and that tree trimming would be needed along Foster Street.
“Although the letter says the city sight distance is met, it’s only met with the clearing of vegetation,” Planning Board Chairman John Fink said. “Therefore, the board would be remiss not to put a condition for final approval that nothing happens until that vegetation clearing is done.”
In past meetings, the board has expressed concerns over stormwater issues at Oriole Way Apartments. Many of the initial issues came after what city Code Enforcement Officer Dwight Tilton described as “a remarkable storm” that produced 4 inches of rain in two and a half hours. Developers Collaborative made $40,000 worth of repairs that helped ease the problem.
“From that point forward, the developer was there every step of the way to try and come up with a remedy,” Tilton said. “I think the city can work with any developers on situations like that, and I don’t see this as being as much of a threat as what the other project was.”
Initially, Developers Collaborative co-founder Kevin Bunker said, there was anticipation that the project would be approved during Wednesday’s meeting. Yet with the property’s seller triggering a subdivision review, there were too many obstacles to clear for the project to receive the final stamp of approval just yet.
“We’re not going to be good to go with the final version from the city until August at the earliest, so we really have another month to tweak this thing,” Bunker said. “I think we had enough to advocate for an approval tonight, but since we have another month on the subdivision anyway, I think we would take advantage of that.”
Discussions will continue at the next Planning Board meeting in August. A time and date for that meeting have yet to be announced.