HALLOWELL — The Stevens Commons master plan review moved closer to completion Wednesday evening when the Planning Board discussed the plan and the next step in the process.

The board voted unanimously to determine that any concerns and questions board members had about the master plan had been addressed. The next step in the review process would be a joint review by the board and the City Council, which a city ordinance requires within 45 days.

The council meets again Jan. 9, and the next Planning Board meeting is set for Jan. 18. It’s possible that the council will choose to host a special meeting with the board to review the plan.

After that meeting, the final steps would be for the Planning Board to make a recommendation to the council, and then the council would vote to approve, approve with conditions or deny the master plan. Each step in the master plan process must occur within 45 days of the previous one.

The meeting Wednesday was the first that addressed the Stevens Commons redevelopment project that wasn’t attended by anyone from the public. The only people in the audience were Councilors-elect Kara Walker and Maureen Aucoin-Giroux and Stevens Commons owner and developer Matt Morrill’s wife, Tammy.

More than 40 people attended a public workshop last month hosted by the Planning Board to discuss public concerns about the Stevens Commons redevelopment.

Many people spoke in favor of limited retail opportunities on the 54-acre campus at the top of Winthrop Street, but everyone agreed that any business that would hurt Hallowell’s downtown would be unacceptable.

In addition to the concerns about retail development, many people last month said they were uneasy about the potential increase in traffic that might result from the new mixed-use development, especially with so many children living around Pleasant and Page streets. There are also questions about school buses from Regional School Unit 2 and how they would navigate the campus, if necessary.

Morrill isn’t obligated to address any of the public’s concerns or to change the master plan.

He has continued to express his vision for the property as a mixed-use development featuring affordable senior housing, commercial and residential space and small, clustered subdivisions. He has asked the city for about $600,000 to help with infrastructure improvements, and the council is expected to decide on a bond package in January.

There has been public support for the bond issue, though people also publicly have questioned spending public money for a private development.

Morrill, of Grand View Log and Timber Frames in Winthrop, bought the former girls’ boarding school from the state in April for $215,000. He has been working to find developers and other investors to help turn the property into a showcase piece of Hallowell real estate.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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