November 28, 2014

Gray Town Council hears presentation on potential apartment complex - By Tracy Scheckel

The Gray Town Council met on November 14 with only three action items on the agenda, but a full slate of presentations and discussion items. The council has been asked to consider educational impact fees for residential development. Chair Matt Sturgis provided an overview of research he’d done regarding how to implement and administer such fees. The Council will conduct a workshop with the Planning Board on December 9 to discuss the potential for the fees and other related items.
With the public’s direction to dispose of Stimson Hall, the council discussed its next move regarding the three town-owned properties on Shaker Road. During public comment, prior to the discussion, Colette Tweten spoke and asked the council to meet with Christopher Closs of Maine Preservation of Yarmouth in order to learn about some resources and options where the preservation of Stimson Hall is concerned. Maine Preservation is a non-profit whose mission – according to its website – “is to promote and preserve historic places, buildings, downtowns and neighborhoods, strengthening the cultural and economic vitality of Maine communities.” The organization offers several services including a revolving loan fund to assist with the rehabilitation and preservation of historic buildings. During the subsequent discussion, the agreed to a presentation from Closs at its December 2 meeting, but also charged Town Manager Deborah Cabana to develop an RFP for real estate services and to get budget pricing for the demolition of all three buildings. Cabana had already done some research on demolition pricing and reported that it would probably be in the vicinity of $100,000 for all three buildings. 

The council discussed the recent Route 26 corridor study conducted with the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) and is considering seeking funding under the Municipal Partnership Initiative (MPI) for the 2016 fiscal year to make the suggested improvements at the Libby Hill intersection. If approved, the MPI program would provide a 50 percent match of the $110,000 estimated cost for the project. MDOT has placed both the Libby Hill and North Raymond Road intersections at the top of its priority list and will pay for both projects completely, but not until 2018 when the funds are available. The council will take the item up on its December 2 agenda to consider whether to expedite the Libby Hill intersection ahead of the MDOT schedule with local funds and the MPI match. 

Pam Wilkinson of the Little Sebago Lake Association (LSLA) gave her annual report regarding the lake and the organization’s 13 year effort to keep variable milfoil under control. Wilkinson reported that during the past eight years, 98 tons of milfoil has been removed, but that in the past year, only one ton was removed – indicating that the efforts have been paying off. She also reported that in 2014 nearly $44,000 dollars had been spent on their efforts in addition to $13,000 worth of in-kind volunteer hours. Gray allocated $8,000 in the current budget, Wilkinson thanked the town for its support and asked that the LSLA be considered again as the council prepares its FY 2016 budget.

Al Palmer of Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers made a presentation of behalf of the owners of Tee ‘Em Up on Portland Road. Owners, Mike Cobb and Rob Cook are seeking a zone change for the property that would allow them to construct as many as 54 rental units. Current zoning for the site allows for about half of that density. Palmer cited cost of infrastructure and a shortage of rental property as the driving factors for the request. Of the five councilors, the only one who indicated any positive interest in the proposed project was Matt Doughty, although he qualified his interest by suggesting that the developer consider condominium ownership rather than rental units. After the discussion, Palmer thanked the council for its input and suggested that the developers would probably reconsider and adjust the proposal. 

The council voted unanimously to enact the voter approved charter amendment immediately and to conduct one regular meeting on December 2 since the volunteer award reception will be held on the 16th and would conflict with the second December meeting.

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