Ellsworth City Hall

Large apartment complex proposed

ELLSWORTH — Developer Jonathan Bates is continuing his quest to build housing in Ellsworth.

On Aug. 3, the Planning Board heard from Bates, along with engineer Andrew McCullough, regarding a proposal to build a maximum 75-unit multifamily dwelling, with parking for 113 vehicles, on a 2.6-acre lot located at 377 High St.

The property is between Curtis Family Shoe Store and Blueberry Hill.

The proposed development would be right up the road from Bates’ most recent construction, the Jefferson Luxe apartment complex on Jefferson Way. But while Jefferson Luxe and the previously constructed Washington Luxe consist of two-bedroom apartments, this new building would focus on filling a need Bates says is not currently being met: the need for single-bedroom apartments.

“It’s a major demand in the city that everybody’s missing,” Bates said of single-bedroom units. “You see a lot of traveling professionals, a lot of people that work in the area or out of the area who like to be in Ellsworth. You see it across the board from young people to old.

“There’s a major, major demand. And it’s affordable, too. We’ll have amenities, like a gym and all that sort of thing. We’ll create a nice environment that everyone can be proud of, it’s just that no one has tackled this demand yet.”

The board opened up the discussion with questions regarding the stormwater runoff management plan.

To deal with the issue, McCollough outlined their plan to build underdrained soil filters that would discharge the water on the opposite side of the High Street frontage.

“[The DEP] wants you to cool down the water, remove heavy sediments, treat it quality-wise, and then release it,” McCollough explained.

There was also some concern as to whether there will be enough water to service this project, along with all of the other development currently taking place in the area, including the expansion of The Jackson Laboratory’s Ellsworth facility. A test has been scheduled to see whether there is enough pressure currently to adequately run fire suppression systems in the building, but a previous test did show that the plans exceeded all existing criteria.

City Planner Elena Piekut noted that the City Council had previously approved funds to study the water system in that area to make sure that it is able to keep up with increased demand caused by future development.

The discussion then turned to traffic, which has become a pervasive issue in that area. Abutting landowner Jennifer Montague, CEO of the Curtis Family Shoe Store, spoke about what it’s like now during peak season.

“In the summer months we call it the ‘Bar Harbor Backup,’” Montague said. “There will be bumper-to-bumper traffic there starting around 11 in the morning right up until 6 or 6:30 in the evening.”

The property would only have one entrance and exit, out on to High Street, which Bates says they did widen to two lanes after discussions with city staff. Adding a second outlet at the back of the property onto Kingsland Crossing had been discussed, but Bates was concerned that the secondary road would not end up benefiting the people living in the complex.

“Clearly it becomes a connection point at Kingsland Crossing, which, for my site, would have a negative impact because of people trying to go through there to connect,” Bates told the board. “And you know what will happen, because there’s a light there, people will bang in there and try to cut over to Kingsland Crossing.”

Ultimately, the preliminary plan presented was found to be complete by the board and allowed to proceed. There will be several other check-ins along the way before final approval but, for now, the residential project is one step closer to becoming a reality.

During that meeting, the board also found the preliminary plan for a major subdivision on Garland Road and Jesse’s Beach Way to be complete.

Zachary Lanning

Zachary Lanning

News reporter Zach Lanning covers news and features in the Ellsworth area. He comes to Ellsworth by way of New Jersey, which he hopes you don't hold against him. Email him at [email protected].

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