An artist’s rendering shows the exterior of a planned 34-unit apartment building at the former MaineGeneral health care facility on Dresden Avenue in Gardiner. Provided by the city of Gardiner

GARDINER — The Gardiner Board of Appeals has found the city’s Planning Board made no reversible errors in its approval earlier this year of elements of the Gardiner Green residential development.

That decision came at the end of a two-hour hearing Tuesday, during which neighbors detailed their continuing concerns about the ability of developer Paul Boghossian and his limited liability company, Hathaway Holdings, to complete his plan to convert a former MaineGeneral hospital building at 150 Dresden Ave. into 34 apartments.

Since the project was first announced in 2020, property owners in the neighborhood have voiced concerns, identified inconsistencies and challenged details in documents submitted for the subdivision and site plan review for the 5-acre property at the southern end of Dresden Avenue.

Under this administrative appeal, the neighbors say the Planning Board’s August approval of Hathaway Holdings’ application was flawed in three ways: It did not support its finding that the developer has the financial capability or the technical capability to complete the project, and it accepted a calculation for open space that is contrary to the city’s Land Use Ordinance.

Ian Burnes, who served on the Planning Board for many years, lives near the site and spoke on behalf of the neighbors, said the energy that drives the appeal is the blight that already exists in the neighborhood and fear it will continue.

“Our concerns are that we will have a situation like Gehring Green, in which we have a permit issued and no action is taken over a very long period of time,” Burnes said.


In 2014, Boghossian announced he had secured funding to convert the historic Gerhing House on Broad Street in Bethel into six luxury apartments, and develop condominium units inside a carriage house and four duplexes. The announcement came five years after the Bethel Planning Board approved the subdivision project. Little to no work was done on the property in the years that followed.

Mark Bower, a lawyer representing Boghossian and Hathaway Holdings, recapped for the Board of Appeals comments he had submitted before the hearing, which included his pointing out the decision the board was reviewing was the 16-page findings of fact and conclusions of law that resulted from the Planning Board’s Aug. 9 decision to approve the application.

“The end result is a very good project,” Bower told members of the Board of Appeals. “It meets all applicable zoning requirements under the city’s ordinances, it rehabilitates a property that badly needs it and it adds much-needed dwelling units for the city.”

Bower outlined the board’s responsibility in hearing the appeal, noting it could modify or reverse actions of the Planning Board only where the Board of Appeals finds the Planning Board’s actions are clearly contrary to the applicable ordinance, which is the city’s Land Use Ordinance.

The Planning Board, he said, found the evidence in the record supporting its decisions on the financial and technical capacity and the open space.

The Planning Board’s findings on financial capability acknowledged the practical considerations in obtaining a financial commitment before securing city approval, including possibilities that the scope and cost would change over the course of the approval process, Bower said.


“Lending institutions are not going to be giving out willy-nilly commitments to a project before it’s even gotten approval from the permitting authority,” he said.

Likewise, Bower said, once approvals are obtained, Boghossian can then choose a contractor to build the project. Under the conditions of approval, Boghossian would have to get the city’s approval before a building permit can be issued.

Bower said in the case of the delays in developing the Bethel property, Boghossian secured historic preservation tax credits and performed work behind the scenes, before eventually selling the property.

Bower also said the open space calculations that neighbors disputed were correct and met the standard laid out in the ordinance.

Members of the Board of Appeals pointed out they could only review information provided in the appeal, and that information was limited and did not include anything to support the neighbors’ claim that the open space provided was not sufficient under the ordinance.

Les Young, chairman of the Board of Appeals, noted that Bower had pointed out that the information neighbors had submitted was from an earlier version of the application, but not the final representation submitted to the Planning Board.


In voting 6-0 that the Planning Board had not created a reversible error in its decision on the financial and technical capacity on the applicant, Board of Appeals members agreed the record shows the Planning Board deliberated the matter and put conditions on the approval that reflect that.

“A lot of thought went into it to put those conditions in there,” Young said.

The Board of Appeals was divided on the issue of the open space, voting 4-2 that the Planning Board had not created a reversible error in its decision that Boghossian and Hathaway Holdings satisfied the open space requirement for the project.

Zach Brandwein, an attorney for the Board of Appeals, said Boghossian’s team had initially argued the appeal should not have been taken up because the hearing was scheduled for 60 days after it was filed, rather than 45 days, as specified in the Land Use Ordinance.

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