The Hallowell Planning Board is expected to review the completeness of the Stevens Commons master plan during its meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

The plan was submitted by owner and developer Matt Morrill Sept. 16, has been scrutinized over the last few weeks and was found to be complete by interim Code Enforcement Officer Dick Dolby.

A city ordinance stipulates that a master plan must include a development narrative, a site inventory and analysis, a conceptual land use plan, a conceptual infrastructure plan and development and dimensional standards for the project. Morrill’s plan, which is posted on Hallowell’s website, includes more than 100 pages of documents, photos, renderings and plans for the campus, which was originally a boarding school for girls in the late 1800s.

“I’m confident (the Planning Board) will find it complete,” Morrill said Thursday. “It has a lot of great detail in it, and I’m confident they’ll find it very thorough and will satisfy their requirements.”

If the application is deemed complete by the seven-member Planning Board, the next step would be a site visit and public workshop, which has to occur within 45 days of the affirmation of the application’s completeness. Morrill admits, however, that there will be an open and ongoing discussion with the Planning Board, which has asked for additional information from many applicants over the last several months before finding an application complete.

Following that public workshop, the Planning Board would then review any changes made to the Master Plan before sending the application to a joint review by the board and the City Council. Ultimately, the board would make a recommendation to the council, and then the council would either approve, approve with conditions or deny the Master Plan. The entire process could take up to 270 days.

Morrill’s vision for the 54-acre campus, which he purchased from the state in April for $215,000, is as a mixed-use development featuring affordable senior housing, commercial and residential space and small, clustered subdivisions.

Morrill, of Grand View Log and Timber Frames of Winthrop, and the Planning Board will be working together for quite some time, Councilor Alan Stearns said last month, and he’s confident the board will “roll up their sleeves and shape this project for the best.”

Stearns said having Dolby involved in the process is good for the city. Dolby spent more than 20 years running the Augusta code enforcement office, but he was not expected to be Hallowell’s code officer this long. However, City Manager Nate Rudy has had a difficult time finding someone to fill the position, though Rudy has interviewed several candidates in recent weeks and hopes to hire somebody before the end of the year.

Fire Chief Mike Grant added a new wrinkle to the Stevens Commons plan last week when he proposed building a new fire station adjacent to the campus’ Erskine Building, part of a phased plan that would eventually include renovating part of that building to house a public safety facility.

Grant called Commons Station a solution that makes sense for Hallowell. He said the new structure would be a “no-frills package with regionalization in mind, room for modern apparatus and optional expansion.” Currently, the fire department is housed at a more than 180-year-old station on Second Street that cannot accommodate modern fire protection equipment.

The Fire Services Committee has been reviewing myriad options for the city’s fire protection future and is expected to make a recommendation to the City Council at its next meeting in November. It is unclear how soon any plan to build a fire station at Stevens Commons would go before the Planning Board, but it would seem as though without the Stevens Commons’ plan moving forward, the fire station plan wouldn’t have legs, either.

Morrill is hosting a fall harvest celebration at Stevens Commons from noon until 4 p.m. Oct. 23. The free event will feature live music, adult and children’s activities, a sidewalk art show, beer garden and other food and drink offerings and campus and conversation area tours.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


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