Engineer Andrew McCullough, left, discusses a High Street multifamily apartment building proposed by Jonathan Bates, seated at right, with the city planning board on Sept. 7. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY ANNE BERLEANT

Subdivision and apartments approved with conditions

ELLSWORTH — An 11-lot subdivision titled Jesse’s Beach Subdivision on Garland Road and a 72-unit apartment building on High Street may move forward after the Planning Board approved both Sept. 7. Both projects must meet certain conditions prior to receiving building permits.

For the Jesse’s Beach project, maintenance of a portion of Garland Road — from Route 180 to Peninsula Drive — which the planned subdivision and two other existing subdivisions use for access, will be part of the deed covenants, as will required membership in the subdivision’s Homeowners’ Association. The property lies in the rural and limited residential shoreline zoning districts.

“I think the proposals put forth are reassuring,” said John Burrell, a resident of the nearby Beechland Subdivision, noting the shared access road is subject to flooding if not maintained. “What’s been discussed this evening is a giant step forward.”

“The major issues pointed out by staff seem to be addressed by the updated covenants,” alternate board member Patrick Lyons noted.

“They’ve done what they need to do,” Chairman John DeLeo agreed.

Conditions imposed restrict use of the lots to residential only and that developers RPM Properties show adequate groundwater supply for the project. Each lot will have a private well. In addition, a 20,000-gallon tank system for fire suppression more than meets firefighting needs. If the tank water is used within the subdivision, the Homeowners’ Association will be responsible for refilling it.

One of the 11 lots will be used as a buffer from a nearby gravel pit off Route 180, said Steve Salsbury of Herrick & Salsbury, who presented the preliminary application to the board earlier this year and the final plans last week.

“Mr. Salsbury has gone above and beyond our recommendations,” Fire and Life Safety Inspector Thomas Canavan said.

Department of Environmental Protection approval of the stormwater plan is expected soon, Salsbury informed the board. “We’re close,” he said.

The board approved waivers for a traffic analysis and paving. Construction on the estimated $250,000 project is scheduled to start in mid-October and finish in July 2023.

On High Street, the multifamily project presented by engineer Andrew McCullough and developer Jonathan Bates initially named Branch Pond is now called Stone Park. The 72-unit building will sit on a 2.6-acre lot at 377 High St. in the commercial zoning district.

The board granted waivers for the lighting plan, which “complies closely” with Dark Sky Society standards, McCullough said, and for pre-cast concrete curbing instead of granite for a sidewalk that will be constructed along High Street. McCullough said the concrete curb “is consistent with what was used on Myrick Road, when it was improved. It’s consistent with the Freshies’ across the street.”

The outstanding issue is the traffic plan. Board member Rick Lyles, a former traffic engineer, said he was not happy with the plan so far. McCullough and Bates are waiting to receive a revised plan that the developers say shows no significant negative impact and no additional queuing of vehicles on High Street.

“When we get that information, do we have to have a meeting to approve?” Lyles asked.

“Ultimately the Planning Board has to make that decision,” Lyons said. “I would interpret that as that we’d have to meet on that one issue to see if we find it satisfactory.”

Email communication will not suffice, he noted, because of Maine’s open meeting laws. McCullough said the revised plan should arrive soon.

“Let’s assume we approve it with that condition,” Lyons said. “There’s some assurances you can move forward, but ultimately it’s all contingent upon our reviewing that study and finding it satisfactory.”

The estimated cost of developing the 72 one-bedroom apartments is $3 million, with construction slated to start next month and be completed in October of 2023.

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]
Anne Berleant

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