Bath board OKs 2 BIW projects, tables rezoning

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BATH — The Planning Board unanimously approved two site plan requests by Bath Iron Works Tuesday, but tabled the shipyard’s contract rezoning request for one project.

BIW wants to build a more than 51,000-square-foot outfitting hall, which will be connected to the south end of the existing Ultra Hall. The building would contain two, 200-ton bridge cranes.

Since the 110-foot height of the outfitting hall would exceed the 75-foot maximum in the Industrial/Shipyard zone, the shipyard is seeking contract rezoning for the project, along with site plan approval.

In return for the rezoning, BIW would create a buffer between its main parking lot and Washington Street. The shipyard would also extend parking, pave existing trails and create a picnic area at South Park.

While it granted site plan approval for that project, the Planning Board opted to table the contract zoning request to its Tuesday, Sept. 17, meeting. The board wants the shipyard to review its public benefit proposal, and see what opportunities there may be to mitigate impacts on the surrounding area, Planning Director Andrew Deci said Wednesday.

The board can only make a recommendation on the contract rezoning, which the City Council must approve.

BIW also plans to demolish its South Hyde Assembly and hazardous waste storage buildings to facilitate construction of a two-bay blast/paint building, and an existing paint building would become a storage facility for paint and hazardous waste, while a combined boiler/compressor building would be built.

The Planning Board granted site plan approval for those projects, too. Construction could begin late this year, with completion expected in the second half of 2015.

BIW is also seeking a tax increment financing agreement with the city for the upgrades. If the City Council approves, the TIF would be BIW’s third in the city. The shipyard has refined the specifics of its proposal to the council, which it was to present Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Bruce Gagnon of Bath, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, has launched a petition drive against the proposed TIF. He said 369 signatures were collected Aug. 27 at the state Senate District 19 polls.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.