The Readfield Planning Board has scheduled a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Office on Bob Bittar’s request to change zoning on his property near the Mill Stream to one that would allow a commercial enterprise.

He plans an event center and community center in a large, timber-framed structure that was completed recently and applied to have the Village District enlarged.

Bittar gave the town’s Select Board an idea of his plans when he addressed them during the public comment period of a meeting in early January.

“The property is zoned now for a club or some kind of other organizational structure,” Bittar told the board. “That would have been fine, but it’s supposed to be and designed to be a center for the town.”

Under the town’s Land Use Ordinance, the Village District permits “higher density residential use, commercial, community and governmental facilities and light industry.”

At that time, he said he was hoping an article about that change could appear on the Town Meeting warrant, which is addressed by voters at the polls in June.


Bittar said he had attempted to get his proposal considered earlier by the Planning Board, but members told him they couldn’t find a quorum to consider it.

Bittar’s property, which is less than 3 acres, contains what is believed to be one of the oldest structures in Readfield, a building he said dates to 1771.

He had it restored and called it “probably the most interesting, most wonderful building north of Portland.”

“Four years ago we began construction of a community center/concert hall/music center in Readfield,” Bittar said via email this week. “It was a dream. Most people thought it was impossible … yes foolish.”

Now he’s celebrating.

“We hope to open this summer,” Bittar said. “There are, of course, a bunch of town hurdles. But we are hopeful that the town will be supportive.


Bittar and his wife Helen, both retired professors from New York University, own the Emporium restaurant in Readfield.

Bittar said the timber-frame building will “provide Maine musicians a concert stage on which to demonstrate their art,” serve as “an informal community center” and “restore the historical commercial legacy of Mill Stream Road,” among other things.

The Bittars have signed trail easements with the town that give permanent access to the town-owned Mill Stream Dam and renewable five-year access to a trail that runs past the dam to an overlook of the old mill pond.

Mill Stream Dam, which was destroyed in the historic flood of April 1987, is near both the Town Office and busy Route 17, locally known as Main Street.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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