WATERVILLE — The Planning Board voted 7-0 on Tuesday night to recommend the City Council rezone part of the Waterville Junior High School property on West River Road to allow construction of a 10,000-square-foot storage facility.

Waterville Public Schools is requesting part of the property at 100 West River Road be rezoned from Resource Protection to Residential-B. Only the City Council has authority to make zoning changes.

The building would be used to store school furniture and other equipment that have been removed from classrooms to allow for social distancing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. After the pandemic is over, the school district would use the building to store buses, according to officials.

If the council approves the rezoning, the schools must come back to the Planning Board to present a site plan for the storage building, which would be funded with federal COVID-19 relief money. It would be built at the end of the parking lot, to the left as one enters the junior high school driveway.

Planning Board member David Johnson said at Tuesday’s meeting he hoped another way to enter and leave the property is developed.

“As a parent of a student at the junior high school,” Johnson said, “I really hope that what happens is another entrance or exit over in that area.”


Jeff Allen, an engineer representing the project, said a plan for that is in the works.

School officials said the building would be completed by the end of the year, if all goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, a plan to build a $6.12 million addition to Waterville Junior High School remains in the works. The current Albert S. Hall School on Pleasant Street would close and the addition to the junior high would house fourth- and fifth-graders beginning in the fall of next year and keep the Hall school name. The addition also would also be built with federal COVID-19 relief money.

In other matters, the board voted unanimously to approve a request by Cleantap Energy to build a solar farm between Eight Rod Road and Punky Lane. Conditions include the developer install a buffer between the solar property and that of abutter Claude Hart, and provide a letter of approval for the project from the fire chief.

The city in March rezoned the property, which includes a meadow and woods, from Rural-Residential to Solar Farm District. The solar farm would include a 3 1/2-megawatt solar array in two separate pods.

Power generated will be collected and sent to the Central Maine Power Co. grid. Cleantap Energy is expected to build a garden off the entrance to Eight Rod Road for use by the community. The garden will include two 4-by-12-foot raised beds.

The board also voted to approve a request by the city that the zoning ordinance be revised to allow solar farms in the Airport District. The change allows developers to expand solar farms on airport property and build additional solar farms, without rezoning, at city-owned Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport.

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