WATERVILLE — The Waterville Planning Board has been asked to make a recommendation to the City Council on whether to rezone the former Sacred Heart Catholic Church property on Middle and Pleasant streets so Ware-Butler Building Supply can use part of it for an office and storage of building materials.

The council voted 7-0 on Tuesday to refer the rezoning request to the Planning Board, which is to hold a public hearing on the matter and recommend whether the council should rezone the properties.

The council is responsible for deciding whether to rezone 5 Middle St. and part of 72 Pleasant St. from Residential-B to Contract Zoned District/Commercial-A so Ware-Butler can expand the existing office building and store building materials in the parking lot off Middle Street.

Ware-Butler Building Supply is asking Waterville to rezone part of the former Sacred Heart Catholic Church property on Middle and Pleasant streets so the company can use it for an office and storage of building materials. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel file

The city went through a similar process last year when Jennifer Bergeron and her partners, who make up the business BACAS, sought to have the property rezoned so they could open an events center at the church building. At the time, the city hired Portland lawyer James N. Katsiaficas of the law firm Perkins Thompson to represent the city.

City Manager Steve Daly told councilors Tuesday he thinks he should ask the same lawyer to represent the city to make sure a Planning Board recommendation is consistent with its findings in the previous process.

“I just want to let you know I intend to do that,” Daly told the council.


The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for April 26.

Scott Wellman, chief financial officer for Ware-Butler, told the Morning Sentinel the application before the council is to rezone only the office building and the lower part of the parking lot. He said Ware-Butler is not asking to rezone the property on which the church and rectory are located.

Wellman said the company, which has been growing, has run out of office space and employees are working at several locations.

With the purchase of the property, Ware-Butler would move its corporate and office employees into one location, using the existing office building and an addition, according to Wellman.

He said the location is perfect for Ware-Butler because it is next to the first Ware-Butler location at 14 North St. If the office building site were rezoned, Ware-Butler officials would look to find the best uses for the church and rectory buildings, Wellman said.

In August, Bergeron and BACAS withdrew their request to rezone the property after many meetings with the Planning Board and City Council, which included pushback by neighbors.


The property was for sale by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, which announced in 2020 that Corpus Christi Parish planned to put it on the market. The church, founded in 1908, had not held Masses since 2006, although a soup kitchen had rented space in the basement.

Some residents who were outspoken in their opposition to having an events center at the church said Wednesday they want to see details of the latest plans, but are not particularly concerned at this point about Ware-Butler’s request to rezone.

“It sounds great,” said Rien Finch, who lives nearby on Pleasant Street. “They’re already great neighbors in the neighborhood, so I trust them when they say they’re going to develop it and keep it in line with what’s there now.”

Finch said his only concern might be how the office expansion might look, but he will wait for details.

“It doesn’t seem like anything they’re doing is going to be a major impact on this neighborhood at all,” Finch said. “There’s nothing raising major red flags here.”

Jeff Karter, an abutter who last year criticized the impact an events center could have on his children and the quiet nature of the neighborhood, said he and his neighbors are pleased with Ware-Butler’s plans.


“We all think it’s great,” Karter said.  “They always keep the property neat and clean. They’re there already. It’s not like anything’s going to change. My kids can still bike in the parking lot. It’s really great to see the building going to a good use. It’s not going to change the dynamics of the neighborhood whatsoever.”

In other matters at Tuesday’s council meeting, the council voted 7-0 to award a $275,355 contract to Freightliner of Maine for a dual recycling-refuse packer truck to supplement the city’s current dual packer truck. Funding for the truck, to arrive next year, would come from a 2021 general obligation bond.

Councilors also voted to use $100,000 of the city’s unassigned balance from the capital reserve account to help fund removal of the failing access ramp to the Waterville Public Library, on the Elm Street side of the building. They also approved a $159,000 contract with Nickerson & O’Day Inc. of Brewer to perform construction work on the access ramp.

Council Chairwoman Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, police Chief Joseph Massey and Waterville Superintendent of Schools Eric Haley also made a presentation about a project to educate families and children about gun safety.

Green initiated the project, which includes sending flyers on gun safety home with children and having the Police Department offer free gunlocks to residents. Informational flyers and gun safety tips also are available at the police station.

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