An artist’s rendering shows the exterior of a proposed 34-unit apartment building at the former MaineGeneral hospital facility on Dresden Avenue in Gardiner. Courtesy of City of Gardiner

GARDINER — Even as developer Paul Boghossian was securing the signatures needed for his project to turn the former MaineGeneral medical facility on Dresden Avenue into apartments, the project’s neighbors continued to question and seek clarifications on the proposal.

On Wednesday, after a process that encompassed 18 meetings over a little more than three years, the Gardiner Planning Board adopted the 16-page decision that detailed the findings of its subdivision and site plan review of the controversial Gardiner Green project they approved in July.

The board did that only after reviewing a letter from a group of Dresden Avenue residents seeking to tighten up and clarify what was outlined in the board’s draft decision. That included spelling out the timeline under which Boghossian must submit a detailed construction schedule and budget to city officials so they can determine whether he has demonstrated that he has the financial capacity and technical expertise to complete the development.

Boghossian is one of the partners behind the development of a former mill building into the Hathaway Creative Center in Waterville with a mix of residential and commercial uses. It was sold in 2017 for about $20 million. He has no association with the current project to develop affordable housing in another building at the mill complex.

He also acquired a property in Bethel near the Bethel Inn with plans to develop it into six luxury apartments. The Bethel Planning Board approved the plan in 2009 and construction was expected to start in 2014, but it did not.

The hospital property came available when MaineGeneral relocated its offices and services from Dresden Avenue to a new building on Brunswick Avenue near Interstate-295 interchange, and worked to sell the building. Dresden Avenue is home to an established neighborhood where older, single-family homes sit on large lots. It’s also zoned to allow high-density residential uses.


Gordon and Helen Stevens are among the neighbors who have opposed the proposal since it was first announced three years ago.

On Wednesday, they renewed their concern about residents of the new 34-unit development following paths on the property that would lead them to trespass on their property.

“We’re concerned about him directing (people) to go for a walk through the woods with no fence along that property line,” Helen Stevens said. “We do not want people walking through our six acres of woods.”

The proposal contained no provision for a fence, and it was not a part of what the Planning Board reviewed, Debby Willis, chairwoman of the Planning Board, said.

“So we’re screwed, basically? Yes? We can’t make him build a fence but he can direct people living in a 34-unit apartment building to our property, and that’s it,” Stevens said.

“I don’t think that it’s a requirement of the ordinance to fence off your property,” Adam Lemire, Planning Board member, said.


“I don’t care if it’s an ordinance. We asked him to do it, and he said he would — yes, you did,” Helen Stevens said, directing that comment to Boghossian, “but there’s been no follow-up discussion,” she said.

Boghossian, however, said he’s happy to work with the neighbors on buffering the property and adding no trespassing signs, but that he had made no such promise.

Gordon Stevens recounted the conversation that took place at a meeting earlier this year.

“He told us, everybody at the meeting, that a fence would be put up, and he said we’re lying about that,” he said. “If the minutes of the public comments are somewhere on the recording, I said the same thing (Helen) said about people in the woods. He said, ‘What do you want me to do, put up a fence?’ And I said yes. That will be recorded someplace.”

“They may have said they would like a fence, but I don’t think I would have agreed to it,” Boghossian said. “But if it is in the record, I’ll put up a fence. I’m a man of my word, and I do what I say.”

After that exchange, Boghossian spoke directly to the Stevenses and said he’d build the fence.


At the outset, the Gardiner Green proposal encompassed a multi-phase plan to create 68 residences, converting existing buildings into apartments and condominium units and adding condominiums in new buildings on the site. The proposal has undergone some changes since it was first introduced, and Boghossian opted to present only the first phase for consideration by the Planning Board.

Under the city’s Land Use Ordinance, Boghossian is required to submit a construction budget and schedule along with documentation showing that adequate funds are committed and available to complete the project.

Kris McNeill, Gardiner’s code enforcement officer, said when he looks at the project’s completion there are two milestones. One is marking the permit complete and the other is issuing and occupancy permit allowing the building to be used.

“If both of those aren’t obtained within two years, they would automatically have to renew their permit through my office, including a whole new review of the permit and repayment of the fees,” he said.

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