AUGUSTA — Concerned that over-restrictive zoning requirements have stifled economic growth, city councilors want the Planning Board to reconsider the regulations for the Riggs Brook Village District.

In 2014, the city made changes to bring the unique zoning requirements of Riggs Brook more into line with zoning in the rest of the city. But city councilors are afraid the rules for the area are still preventing development from taking place there. The Riggs Brook district is roughly centered on the Route 3 corridor near the Cushnoc Crossing Bridge on the east side of the Kennebec River and Church Hill Road. It extends nearly a mile in each direction from the intersection of Route 3 and Church Hill Road, and as far as South Belfast Avenue to the south.

Councilors voted 4-0 Thursday in favor of directing the Planning Board to review whether changes to the zoning district are necessary to spur new development and, if so, make recommendations on what to change.

“Right now, there’s no city water or sewer out there, and the vision for that place didn’t take off the way it was intended to,” said Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind.

The Riggs Brook Village zoning district was created in 2001 as city officials anticipated the area would see a development boom after the 2004 construction of the Cushnoc Crossing Bridge. They sought to ensure the area saw a mix of residential and high-quality commercial development along the corridor, which many motorists take to get to the coast via Route 3.

That development boom never came and, despite 2014 changes, the area is still largely undeveloped.


Councilors also voted Thursday to table, for an indefinite period of time, a proposal for a contract zone agreement that would have allowed the would-be owner of a piece of property in the Riggs Brook district to convert an existing building into an all-terrain vehicle sales and service business. Without the agreement, that business wouldn’t be an allowed use in that zone.

The proposal from now-Readfield resident Corey Wilson, a former city councilor in Augusta until he resigned earlier this year, would have allowed an ATV business to be created in an existing warehouse-type building at 2459 North Belfast Ave. — but only if the building was brought into compliance with the design standards of the Riggs Brook Village.

City Manager William Bridgeo said Wilson asked him to withdraw the proposal.

Last month, Wilson told councilors that, even with the proposed contract zone agreement, meeting the requirements of the Riggs Brook Village District would have been too costly for the project to be affordable for him. He expressed support for the proposal to loosen the restrictions of the Riggs Brook Village District.

Councilors, in a vote not directly related to the specific contract zone proposed for Wilson’s potential business, also voted to ask the Planning Board to review and make recommendations for improvements to the city’s contract zoning process.

Councilors also voted unanimously Thursday in favor of eliminating the city’s definition and regulations for specialized medical clinics, which currently apply to facilities such as medical marijuana providers and methadone clinics. The elimination of that will leave those types of uses to be regulated under the city’s existing medical clinics rules, which also govern multiple-doctor doctor’s offices and other medical clinics.

Development Director Matt Nazar said the city now has separate rules regulating medical marijuana-related facilities. And he said federal law bans municipalities from regulating methadone clinics, which help drug addicts get off opiates such as heroin using medication, differently than other medical clinics.

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