bridgton

The Bridgton Planning Board meets Monday on the hotel project. At table from left: Dee Miller, Kenneth Gibbs, Catherine Pinkham, Deb Brusini, Aga Dixon and Steve Collins. (MAGGIE SCARLETT PHOTO)

BRIDGTON, Maine — After repeated hearings before the Bridgton Planning Board, Justin McIver's Bridgton hotel project proposal finally passed one day before town meeting.

Developer McIver of Main Eco Homes has tried for years to get his plan to bring a large, upscale hotel to downtown Bridgton. His application was deemed incomplete in December 2017. He resubmitted in February 2018, since which five public hearings and a site walk held.

The clock was ticking on his proposal: Tuesday's election included a new land use/zoning ordinance that if it passes would place the 37-year-old McIver's three parcels in different districts.

The board voted 5-0 Monday, with Deb Brusini moving to accept it, Catherine Pinkham seconding, and Dee Miller, Kenneth Gibbs and Steve Collins all voting in favor. 

The property in question is located on the Saunders Mill property at the intersection of Kennard and Bacon streets. It is within walking distance of Bridgton's Main Street and Highland Lake, the town beach.

Residents of Kennard Street had raised concerns about parking and lighting.

McIver had whittled down several aspects of his original plan, including reducing the number of guest rooms and entrances to the hotel.

Deliberations began last Wednesday, May 29, and lasted until late afternoon Monday, June 10, taking over 12 total hours. 

Approximately 330 people attended the first meeting. Both the Main Eco Home team and the Save Kennard Street organization brought legal representation to the final deliberations; however numbers dwindled as the discussion dragged on. 

Before any sort of decision on the site plan was reached, many conditions were added by the planning board that must be adhered to in the approval.

The conditions included a buffer of 2-3 feet of shrubbery to be planted on all borders of the property that adjoin with residential lots in order to create a distinct separation.

There was also debate over the status of the parking lots as a conforming or non-conforming structure within the site plan as well as the extent of earth-moving and fill involved with the project.

Ultimately, the decision was made that the earth-moving and fill would be allowed if the proposal were to pass site-plan review with the condition that artificial lighting be placed around the brook in the interest of public safety.

The vote for including a lighting condition passed 4-1, with Miller in opposition.

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