The entry to Countryside Park mobile home park, off West River Road in Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

WATERVILLE — The Planning Board voted 6-1 on Monday night to approve final plans for a 60-unit expansion of Countryside Mobile Home Park off West River Road.

The board also voted 7-0 to elect Samantha Burdick its chairperson, succeeding Paul Lussier, who resigned recently.

The board’s approval of the Countryside expansion at 457 West River Road, proposed by L/A Properties LLC, followed a lengthy discussion and many questions by board members, including Tom DePre, who was the lone dissenter in the vote.

The board approved the proposal with conditions, including that the project receive a state Department of Environmental Protection permit, Natural Resource Protection Act permits, U.S. Army Corps of Engineering stream crossing and wetland impact approval and a Maine Manufacturing Housing Board Community license.

DePre said during the board’s three-hour meeting he had concerns with several issues, including the amount of water from the project that would run through the wetlands, especially with the snowmelt. He also said he was concerned about sandpipers living near the site.

Randy Butler of Dirigo Engineering of Fairfield, who is working on the project, said the DEP requires no net water increase on the site as part of the plan, which includes underdrain soil filters to address that.

He said calculations show no net increase and actually a slight decrease in water. Butler said there is a sandpiper habitat adjacent to the site and the DEP is aware of it. Addressing it will be part of the permitting process, he said.

He also said there are about 5 acres of wetlands on the property, but the project would disturb less than about 10% of that.

DePre asked Butler if he would be willing to redesign a proposed recreation area and Lot 30 in the expansion, but Butler said it already exceeds the minimum standards.

“It’s important to remember that the recreation area doesn’t necessarily have to have a playground-type area,” Butler said, adding the area could be as simple as a park.

DePre asked if the developer, Rick Breton, would be willing to delay clearing trees on the land until the DEP approves the project. Breton said that work is best done in the winter, when the ground is frozen, to avoid messes, including mud and ruts. He said he also wants to get his roads in this winter.

In response to questions from board member Bruce White, Breton said he sells the double-wide and single-wide mobile homes for $100,000 and $75,000 to $80,000, respectively, and homeowners would pay a monthly lot rental fee of $350, which includes sewer but not water.

Mayor Jay Coelho asked how trash removal is handled.

“Gregory’s (Disposal) hauls all trash,” Breton said, “and they bill people $17 a month.”

Coelho said in 10 or 15 years, there will not be a huge impact on the tax base from the expansion, and he was trying to determine the benefit to Countryside, “other than cheap, affordable housing.”

Breton said he bought Countryside in 2011, when the taxes on the park then were $13,000. They are now $36,000. He said he tries to keep it as affordable housing, but with taxes increasing, he has to charge $350 for the lot rentals.

Board member Uria Pelletier said he supports and applauds the project, which will provide needed affordable housing for Waterville.

“You can’t find a place to rent in this city,” Pelletier said. “For a one-bedroom (apartment), you’re looking at $600 to $700 a month.”

Coelho said Waterville’s property tax rate has stabilized, and city officials are now focused on getting the most bang for the buck.

White agreed with Pelletier, saying he felt better about the project after he toured the site recently.

“I figure if there’s not a need, then those lots won’t fill up,” White said. “And if there is a need, they will fill up.”

The expansion would connect to Countryside at the end of Victoria Drive, and abut Village Green Mobile Home Park to the north. It would have access from West River Road.

In other matters, the board voted 7-0 to approve plans for Waterville Audiology to relocate its offices from Silver Street to 105 Kennedy Memorial Drive — a building that formerly housed United Way of Mid-Maine Inc.

The board also voted 7-0 to approve plans by Halfpints Daycare LLC  for a day care center at 155 Kennedy Memorial Drive.

The board reviewed an informal preapplication by Cleantap Energy to construct a solar farm between Eight Rod Road and Punky Lane. Cleantap also requested that about 39 acres between those roads be rezoned from Rural Residential to Solar Farm District to allow for the development.

The board voted 7-0 to recommend the City Council rezone that property, which Breton owns and would lease to Cleantap. The business plans to build a 3.5 megawatt solar farm with a 6-foot-tall chain-link fence and gate surrounding it. Once the council votes on rezoning, the proposal would go back to the Planning Board.

Also on Monday night, the board voted 7-0 to approve final plans by Travis Clark to build two self-storage buildings at 199 College Ave., next to Kennebec Auto Service, and welcomed three new members: Hilary Koch, David Johnson and April Chiriboga.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.