WATERVILLE — Taco Bell wants to open a fast food restaurant on upper Main Street across the street from Elm Plaza, but the city must approve a zone change for that to happen because the building would not meet the city’s setback requirements.

The City Council Tuesday will consider referring to the Planning Board a request to hold a public hearing and make a recommendation on the proposal to rezone 345 Main St. from Commercial-C to Commercial-A to reduce the required building setbacks to allow Taco Bell to be built there. As part of the vote, the council also would ask the Planning Board for a recommendation to change the zoning ordinance to allow the board flexibility in determining the size of space required for drive-thru restaurants.

Once the Planning Board makes a recommendation on the plan, the council would take a final vote.

The council meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center.

Taco Bell is under contract to buy the Main Street property, the site of a former Bank of America, according to City Planner Ann Beverage.

She said the developer, Vertical Construction, wants to tear down the building on the site and build a new 1,700-square-foot one. Gorrill Palmer is the consulting firm working on the plans.

But the building does not meet the setback requirements, according to Beverage.

“We also require a certain number of spaces in the drive-thru and they can’t meet that either, but they’re saying they don’t need as many as some other businesses,” Beverage said.

There is a Taco Bell off Kennedy Memorial Drive just south of Airport Road, but Beverage said it has a different owner than the one proposed for Main Street. The Main Street lot is part of a subdivision that includes Liberty Tax and Sherwin Williams, and both those businesses access their properties via the proposed Taco Bell site, she said.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors will consider approving a lease for Black Bear Aviation at Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport that would provide additional space for Black Bear. The five-year lease would include use of the main hangar, which Black Bear now uses, as well as two additional rooms for offices. Black Bear does aircraft maintenance, painting, sales, detailing and repair. The company, owned by Kevin Dauphinee, has a lot of local clients but also works on planes from all over the country, including Alaska.

“I think he’s doing very well there,” City Manager Michael Roy said of Dauphinee.

The council also will consider taking $1,500 from the South End Capital Improvement Account to support a Recreational Trail Program grant for designing a trail through the South End.

The trail would go from Summer Street through the cemetery on Grove Street and continue along Water Street and onto city land at the confluence of Messalonskee Stream and the Kennebec River. The Kennebec Messalonskee Trails group has an opportunity to get funding through a Recreational Trails Program grant to build the infrastructure needed to create trails that would connect to the KMT trails system through the South End, according to a memo from Peter Garrett of Kennebec Messalonskee Trails to the council and Mayor Nick Isgro.

The grant would provide $35,000 if the city and community groups pitch in 20 percent, or $7,000, according to Garrett.

Garrett’s group would commit $3,500 and has asked the South End Neighborhood Association and Waterville Community Land Trust for the remaining $2,000, his memo says.

The council also will review the city’s 2014-15 audit, which shows the city had a fund balance of $5.9 million, which is more than 12 percent of the total budget for 2014-15. The council has a policy of keeping the fund balance at a minimum of 12 percent, according to Roy. Financial institutions recommend municipal fund balances be kept at between 8 and 16 percent, or one to two months’ operating expenses, he said.

The city estimated its total revenues for the year would be $36 million and ended up with a total of $36.5 million.

“That means we had a positive balance of $422,000 more in revenues than we expected,” Roy said.

He said the city collected $215,000 more in taxes and $162,000 more in tuition and other charges for educational services than expected.

Total expenditures for 2014-15 were $37.5 million, whereas the city expected expenditures to be $37.8 million — a difference of $361,874 — so the city did not spend as much as it expected. Nicholson, Michaud & Co., certified public accountants of Waterville, did the audit for the city’s fiscal year 2014-15, which ended June 30.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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