Ware-Butler Building Supply wants to use a former church rectory at 74 Pleasant St. for its business offices, a move that would require rezoning by city officials. Scott Monroe/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — The Planning Board voted 7-0 on Tuesday to send a memo to the City Council explaining why it previously recommended a zoning change for 74 Pleasant St. that would allow Ware-Butler Building Supply to put corporate business offices at the former Sacred Heart Church rectory.

The board voted 4-2 on Feb. 14 to recommend the council rezone the property from Residential-D to Contract Zoned District/Commercial-A, with board Chairwoman Samantha Burdick opposing the rezoning. Burdick argued the city has a serious lack of housing and Ware-Butler already had torn down three houses, one next to its North Street retail building and two on Pleasant Street, near that building. She also cited lack of a cohesive zoning plan for that area.

At the urging of City Solicitor William A. Lee III, the council voted 5-0 on Feb. 21 to send the matter back to the Planning Board, asking that the board explain its recommendation to the council about rezoning the property and issue councilors a report detailing the reasons for the recommendation.

Lee said the city’s zoning ordinance requires the Planning Board issue such a report when it makes a zoning change recommendation. He also said the board merely voted to recommend the change to the City Council, with no explanation.

The memo the board plans to send to the council says the board held a public hearing on the issue Tuesday. Also, on May 17, 2022, the council rezoned 5 Middle St. and part of 72 Pleasant St. from Residential to Contract-zoned District/Commercial-A to allow Ware-Butler to use the former church office building for offices.

The five-page memo lists many conditions for uses on the property, including that if Ware-Butler sells the property, the zoning would revert to residential. It says the board finds the proposed uses on the property are consistent with several provisions in the city’s comprehensive plan, and given that professional offices are allowed in parts of the Residential-D zone, proposed office use is consistent with existing and permitted uses in the original zone.


Board member Tom DePre asked that a sentence be added to the memo saying the Sacred Heart rectory, when it was occupied, would have included some office use in the building.

The Planning Board can only recommend rezoning to the City Council, which has the final say. The council must vote twice to make a zoning change and may take only one vote per meeting.

Burdick and board member Hilary Koch voted Feb. 14 to oppose the rezoning. Burdick said Tuesday she still opposes it. She said councilors should discuss their vision for the area, and an ordinance should be developed for the neighborhood. It does not make sense, she said, to keep rezoning it piecemeal.

Alan Orcutt, chief operating officer for Ware-Butler, said he would be happy to be part of that discussion. He said his company will continue good-faith efforts and respect what the city and residents want for the area. In answer to a question from board member Bruce White, Orcutt said the plan is to have six employees move into the former rectory from the administrative office building at the site.

In other matters Tuesday, the board voted 7-0 to approve:

• A final plan by Colby College to build a 328-space parking lot off Senior Drive.

• A request by Walmart to change a previously approved site plan. The company plans to build a 4,500-square-foot addition to its building for online grocery service pickup.

• A request by Elm Plaza Corp. to put a Town Fair Tire store in the space formerly occupied by Olympia Sports at the shopping plaza off upper Main Street. Jeff Allen of A.E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers said the business plans to put six service bay doors at the rear of the building and two pedestrian doors on the side of the building. He said he thinks the business will be open by fall, in time for drivers to have their snow tires mounted.

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