HALLOWELL — Developer Matt Morrill revealed a conceptual overview of the master plan for his Stevens School campus during Monday’s City Council meeting.

Morrill, who bought the property for $215,000 from the state in April, unveiled Stevens Commons, a mixed-use development including a mix of offices and commercial space, residential offerings, apartments, duplexes and small, clustered subdivisions.

A glossy, four-page pamphlet says “Stevens Commons will be a landmark development that will enhance the quality of life of residents, tenants and the public.”

Morrill said the official master plan application will be submitted this week, and Morrill hopes the plan will go before the Planning Board in October.

Some of the features of the master plan, Morrill said, include granting public access easements from Winthrop Street to the Howard Hill Preserve and providing means for neighborhood/community connectivity with interconnected sidewalks and trails.

Morrill also noted this property was tax-exempt while it was owned by the state, so this redevelopment would grow the city’s tax base. He also said a fiber optic network was discovered on site that could provide high-speed internet that “would be very desirable for individual users up to larger tech-based companies.”

“I think it’s essential that we work together to get this done, because I can’t do this on my own,” Morrill told the council. “I’ll need your assistance to build this out the way it should be.”

The Council also discussed a $248,000 forgivable loan to Morrill’s Mastway Development that could provide funding for immediate infrastructure improvements that would ultimately support an affordable-housing development in the next few years at the Stevens Commons site. It approved allowing City Manager Nate Rudy to continue negotiating with Morrill on terms of the loan.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved the final draft of the amended City Charter, which will now be placed on the November ballot.

The eight-person Charter Commission, which was created last year, worked for more than 12 months on reviewing and amending potential revisions to the charter, which hasn’t seen many changes since it was created more than 60 years ago.

Chairman Stephen Langsdorf, an attorney at Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios LLP in Augusta and Augusta’s city counselor, said the panel went back and forth on a lot of the changes, but ultimately all of them were unanimously approved.

“They did an outstanding job under the able guidance of Steve Langsdorf,” Mayor Mark Walker said before the meeting. “It took a tremendous effort to look over a 50-plus-year-old document, and I think what they’ve drafted will serve the city well.”

One of the biggest changes the commission recommended was changing the lengths of the mayor’s and city councilor’s terms of office. The offices are now two-year positions, but under the revised charter, councilors would serve staggered three-year terms.

Other proposals included stipulating that certain positions that fall under the supervision of the city manager would be subject only to initial approval by the council. After that, the city manager would handle all matters of employment under normal practices. Langsdorf said this change means councilors would not have to decide the future of a city employee without having access to their personnel file or day-to-day performance.

Walker started the meeting by appointing Michael Frett, an attorney originally from Brooklyn, New York, to replace Sophie Gabrion as Ward 2’s councilor. Gabrion, 30, resigned last week due to health concerns. Frett will complete Gabrion’s term, which expires in January 2018.

“I think (Michael) will be a plus, and we’re fortunate that he was able to step up,” Walker said. “He has a legal background, and I think he’s very knowledgeable and detail oriented.” Walker said Frett will take Gabrion’s spot on the highway and parking committees. Councilor Diano Circo was named to Gabrion’s seat on the fire services committee.

Despite not being from Maine, Frett has lived in the area for years and has been accepted by the community, Walker said. “He’s been around, and he’s been involved.”


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