WATERVILLE — The Planning Board put off making a decision Monday night on a proposal for a 65-unit mobile home park expansion between Village Green and Countryside mobile home parks off West River Road until the developer can come back with a more thorough and final plan.

Meanwhile, several residents of Village Green complained the park has a lot of problems, including standing water with no drainage that causes some mobile homes to shift and not stay level and causes potholes and uneven roads through the park. They said they worry adding 65 more units will make the problems worse.

“My trailer’s on an island when it’s wet — I mean, there’s water all the way around it,” said Larry Davis, 72.

Melanie Edwards, whom Davis described as his “better half,” said they pay workers to level the home and make the windows and doors fit, but the fixes don’t last because of the wetness.

“We are in a swamp,” Edwards, 72, said. “It’s so frustrating. It’s like throwing money down a toilet.”

Board member Bruce White said he drove through Village Green earlier Monday and talked to residents about their concerns. He also toured Countryside to the south of that park and Punky Meadows, a mobile home park to the south of Countryside. He said he does not think the upkeep of the parks is up to a standard anyone at the meeting would expect.

“The fear is that if they’re not maintaining what they have, how can we expect anything better?” White said.

He said he would have a hard time moving forward on an expansion plan if the existing properties are not maintained.

“It’s deteriorated over the years, and there’s no guarantee that it will be any better,” he said.

L/A Properties LLC, owned by Rick Breton, is proposing the 65 new units, and his plan would be reviewed under the city’s site plan review and subdivision ordinance and a section of the zoning ordinance. Breton bought Village Green in December and also owns Countryside and Punky Meadows.

L/A Properties also is requesting the City Council rezone a 225-by-1,150-foot strip along Webb Road from Residential-B to Rural Residential, which would put the entire parcel in the Rural Residential Zone.

The zoning change is necessary to construct an access road from Webb Road to an expansion of Countryside Mobile Home Park.

Randy Butler of Dirigo Engineering speaks Monday during a Planning Board meeting about a mobile home park plan. Many in the audience are residents who oppose the plan. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

Randy Butler, senior project engineer for Dirigo Engineering of Fairfield, represented L/A Properties Monday night with a preliminary plan for the 65-unit park expansion. He said Breton could not make it to the meeting.

The developer decided to remove the access road proposal from the first phase of the development, but wants to continue seeking the zone change so as to be able to build a road in the future, according to Butler.

Board member Tom Nale Jr. made a motion to table that zoning request until L/A Properties comes back with a more detailed plan. His motion passed 7-0.

The Planning Board can recommend zoning changes to the City Council, but only the council has the authority to make zone changes.

 

The entry to Countryside Park mobile home park off West River Road in Waterville on Monday. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

MORE OPPOSITION

City Manager Michael Roy attended Monday’s meeting to say he opposes the 65-unit park. More than 50% of all housing units in the city are rental units and the demand from most of those units does not come close to the cost of services the city provides for those units, Roy said.

The population of the city doubles during the daytime, when people come into the city to work and for other reasons. They use the services, including those provided by the Police and Fire departments, and the tax burden falls on those who live and pay taxes here.

“Waterville, unfortunately over time, has become a service center and the cost of that is very, very difficult for us to support,” Roy said.

Waterville City Manager Michael Roy speaks to the Planning Board on Monday in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

In a memo to the Planning Board, Roy requested the board deny the rezoning proposal for the 65-unit mobile home park. He said the city already has four large mobile home parks that include 248 units.

“While I acknowledge the need for affordable housing, I think the city has surpassed its responsibility to satisfy that need,” Roy’s memo reads. “Well over 50% of all housing units in the city are rentals. I believe that we are providing affordable housing for the entire region, not just for Waterville. Over time, these units become a substantial financial drag on the city’s financial position.”

Roy included in his memo a summary of how mobile homes are taxed in Waterville: Countryside has 114 units with an average assessed value of $9,325, and each unit pays $240 in taxes. Punky Meadows park has 21 units with an average assessed value of $12,195, and each unit pays $314 in taxes. Village Green has 84 units with the average assessed value of $14,200, and each pays $366 in taxes. Poolers Parkway has 29 units, with each assessed at $3,400 and paying $88 in taxes.

The Village Green mobile home park off West River Road in Waterville on Monday. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Those assessed values were tallied after the Homestead exemption of $20,000 and veterans exemption of $6,000 were figured in and Roy noted the Homestead Exemption is expected to increase July 1.

“When one considers the cost to educate a child, provide police, fire protection and public works services, one can quickly see that this type of development can be a huge cost drain for the city,” his memo reads.

“When housing units don’t or can’t contribute a reasonable amount to support their use of city services, everyone else has to help pick up that burden.”

Davis lives on Ryan Drive in Village Green. While he owns his mobile home, he pays $255 in rent for the lot under it and must also cover the cost of water, heat and lights. He said the previous owner of the park did not notify residents it was being sold. After the sale, they learned their rent will go up $40 and the dumpsters for which each resident paid $10 a month will be removed from the park, and they will have to buy purple bags for trash, place them by the mailboxes near West River Road and pay $30 a month. They also will have to start paying to have pets, he said. He said most of the people in the park are senior citizens and on fixed incomes.

Davis, who is disabled and a veteran, led a tour of the park earlier Monday, during which he pointed to the bumpy, potholed roads and standing water. He said the park has a water problem.

“It’s like this all the time,” he said. “There’s no place for the water to go. There’s no drainage in the park.”

Wendy Voye, 44, said many driveways in the park flood frequently. She said there are already three mobile home parks in that area and she does not think another one should be developed. Her mobile home is adjacent to the woods and the trees would have to be cut down to make way for the 65 units.

“I think taking away the woods is atrocious,” Voye said.

At Monday night’s meeting, board member Samantha Burdick said the zoning ordinance stipulates mobile home parks may not be located near swamps or wetland areas.

“To me, this plan is having a mobile home park in a wetland area,” she said.

Larry Davis, 72, leads a tour of Village Green park Monday where he points to the bumpy, pot-holed roads and standing water. “There’s no place for the water to go,” he said. “There’s no drainage in the park.” Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

But Butler, the engineer, said a swamp is open water.

“That’s not what you have here,” he said, to which audience members said in unison, “Oh, yes it is.”

Jeanne Jackson said the area where she lives on Village Green Road is not designated as wetlands, yet there is deep, standing water in the spring.

“It has nowhere to go,” she said. “We go by driveways inundated with water.”

She said people cannot get out of their cars without walking into water.

“It’s just rivers of water sometimes down there,” she said.

Breton owns and operates more than 15 mobile home parks in Waterville, Bangor, Winslow, Winthrop, Oakland, Richmond and Fairfield.

In Waterville, Breton owns Pooler’s Park Way off Grove Street. He also owns a mobile home sales business in Sidney.

His mobile home park expansion proposal is expected to be taken up again March 16 at the Planning Board’s next meeting.

In other matters Monday, the board voted 7-0 to recommend 3, 5, and 7 Park Street be rezoned from Residential-D to Commercial-A to allow William Dangler to move his business, People’s Salon & Spa from Temple Street to the former Redington Funeral Home on Park.

The board also voted 5-2 to recommend revisions to articles of the zoning ordinance to allow solar farms in the Rural Residential and Airport Industrial zones, with Cathy Weeks and Tom DePre dissenting. Board members noted that future requests to site solar farms will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


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