Mary Brow, a 57-year resident of Lee Street, speaks last month against a mixed-use zoning rule during a meeting at the Winslow Parks and Recreation Department building. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

WINSLOW — Months after its first presentation to the Winslow Town Council, the rezoning of properties off Lee and Marie streets was unanimously tabled prior to its first vote in its new form Monday night.

After pushback from neighbors against the initial proposal to change the land on Tax Map 13, Lot 115’s zoning from high-residential to mixed-use, the proposal to change the property’s zoning to a contract zone for S B Martin Excavation’s garage was postponed at its first reading.

Lots 87, 88 and 89 in Dunbar Acres would be changed to the contract zone from high-density residential.

The initial ordinance, which would turn the property from high-density residential to mixed use, passed twice. After neighbors pushed back, councilors visited the property during a workshop Oct. 1 and then addressed the resolution again.

The council delayed the ordinance at the Oct. 13 council meeting, and called a special meeting Oct. 29. During the special meeting councilors voted down the original ordinance and the new proposal surfaced. The new ordinance could not be voted on because not enough time for required notices had been provided before the meeting occurred.

The land is currently owned by Chuck Lambert, but would be used by Steve Martin to build a garage for equipment. Neighbors spoke before meetings about their concerns about the mixed-use designation, which allows a variety of businesses on the property. A contract zone is more specific. Only the garage would be allowed. Martin also plans to put houses on the property.

During the public hearing, six neighbors or representatives spoke.

“Still don’t think there should be a business in the neighborhood,” said Andy Chapman, who spoke during public comment at three prior meetings.

Marcia Stetson, who also spoke at prior meetings, questioned the processes. “It might sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but I think there’s a lack of public awareness,” she said.

Attorney Alton Stevens said because the land is in a zoned residential subdivision, no one can change the subdivision plan unless there is an amendment. “At this point in time, this is a useless exercise,” Stevens said.

Town Council chairman Ray Caron, who represents District 4, interjected to say there is a different way he should’ve gone through it. Tempers briefly flared before the meeting was brought back to order.

Lambert asked councilors to postpone the vote.

Elery Keene, planning board chairperson, said he assumed the abutting property owners knew about the situation, but was mistaken. No abutters came to the initial planning board meeting.

Town attorney William A. Lee III suggested taking more time to look into the situation, citing Lambert’s desire to table. The council obliged.

SOLAR ON RODERICK ROAD?

Gil Paquette and Daniel Serber of NextGrid Inc. addressed the council with a proposal for a solar site on Roderick Road. Paquette, the civil engineer for the project, joined via Zoom and Serber, NextGrid’s director of land development, attended in-person.

Roderick Road is in a mixed-use zone, which currently only allows for medium solar projects and not a large-scale project like the NextGrid proposal.

NextGrid has nine permitted projects across Maine, including one on Webb Road in Waterville. The proposal, still in its preliminary stages, includes 17,000 panels.

“We’re going to make sure this can’t be seen, or heard, by anyone in the neighborhood,” Serber said.

There is already an approved subdivision plan in the area for duplex housing. Serber said the solar project, which begins with a 20-year contract, would be “much lower impact” than what’s already been approved. Serber said there could be a 12% discount on power bills, including for Winslow public schools.

NEW AMBULANCE, FIRE STATION RENOVATIONS 

During the meeting, Fire Chief Ronny Rodriguez spoke about the possibility of purchasing a second ambulance.

Rodriguez, the council and Town Manager Erica LaCroix spoke about renovating or building a new fire station. LaCroix said it is “situation critical.” There is little space, and there is no setup for female staffers. The cost to renovate is about $1 million, a new facility would cost about $3 million.

LaCroix suggested looking at a new town complex.

“Yes, it’ll cost money, but it’s a long-term investment in the prosperity of the town,” LaCroix said. “It is a lot cheaper looking at doing a big operation like that than it is to look at piecemealing it over time.”

A committee will be formed.

OTHER BUSINESS:

• LaCroix recognized the efforts of Town Clerk Lisa Gilliam and Human Resource and Finance Director Tanya Groce for their work during the Nov. 3 election. LaCroix presented them with certificates for eight hours of paid time off.

• The council voted unanimously to authorize the tax collector to sell 101 acres of tax-acquired property on Maple Ridge Road for a minimum bid of $85,000 and an easement from Farm Land Trust.

• Former town manager Michael Heavener was appointed to the Agricultural Commission.

• Halifax Heights was accepted as a town street.

• An amendment to building and plumbing regulations was approved to allow a homeowner to place a single-wide mobile home on a property where a residence was made uninhabitable in a sudden manner. The mobile home may stay for two years.

• The council renewed a Special Amusement Permit for MacCrillis-Rousseau Post #8835 at the Winslow Veterans of Foreign Wars.

• The council approved a Pole Location Permit on Augusta Road for Central Maine Power and Consolidated Communications. District 3 Councilor Jerry Quirion voted against it.

• The council also discussed a proposal by Johnny’s Selected Seeds to purchase the Orion Ropeworks building and offers are being accepted.

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