The Waterville Planning Board recommended this week the City Council rezone land to allow Ware-Butler Building Supply to fix up the rectory at the former Sacred Heart Church on Pleasant Street so the company can use the building for business offices. Above, the rectory in 2021. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The Planning Board voted 4-2 on Tuesday to recommend the City Council rezone 74 Pleasant St. so Ware-Butler Building Supply can fix up a former church rectory to be used for business offices.

Debate was fierce on the proposal, with board Chairwoman Samantha Burdick leading the charge to oppose the rezoning, saying the city has a serious lack of housing and Ware-Butler already has torn down three houses, one next to its North Street retail building and two on Pleasant Street near that building.

The rectory for the former Sacred Heart Church could serve as multifamily housing, Burdick said.

She also said rezoning from Residential-D to Contract Zoned District/Commercial-A would not guarantee the 140-year-old rectory would be preserved.

Burdick, who lives in the neighborhood, said the city’s comprehensive plan makes clear there are to be no businesses on Pleasant Street. Ware-Butler is a good neighbor and people are glad to have it in Waterville, Burdick said, but just because Ware-Butler owns the rectory does not mean the city has to rezone the property.

“It is concerning to me as a neighbor the amount of sprawl that this business is starting to take,” she said.


Planning Board member Cassie Julia asked Alan Orcutt, Ware-Butler’s chief operating officer, what will happen to the former rectory if the city does not approve the rezoning.

“We’d reassess, I guess, our options at that point,” he said.

Orcutt said Ware-Butler has 15 locations, and Waterville is the headquarters for its retail division. It has six to eight employees at an office over the North Street business, about 16 at the former Sacred Heart Church office and would have about six employees at the former rectory, he said.

Ware-Butler is considering demolishing the former church, but is open to discussing alternatives with the city, Colby College or others.

Laurie Trefethen of Pleasant Street said there are many children on the street and traffic is already heavy. Rezoning would make matters worse, she said.

“This is residential,” she said. “We need to keep it that way.”


City Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, recently voted against referring the rezoning request to the Planning Board. The property is in his ward, and Francke said he was disappointed Ware-Butler had not contacted him to discuss the request.

“I have plenty of ideas,” Francke said, “and I would love to discuss these matters with you.”

He recommended Ware-Butler withdraw its request and engage in discussions with the city to find a way to address the company’s need for office space, without changing the character of the Pleasant Street neighborhood.

Planning Board members made three amendments to the proposal, including that if Ware-Butler were to sell the property or change the use of office space at the former rectory, the zoning would automatically revert back to residential.

The board also voted to add a stipulation that the business office hours should be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., language City Planner Ann Beverage said was already in the contract zone.

Another change the board approved requires there be no egress or ingress into the parking lot from Pleasant Street, and that employees must enter the parking lot from Middle Street.

Planning Board member Hilary Koch joined Burdick in opposing the recommendation that the City Council rezone the property.

The council is scheduled to review the proposal Tuesday.

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