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FREEPORT — A previously approved nine-lot commercial subdivision by CF Cousins River, LLC on U.S. Route 1 has been amended and will now only include four lots.
The Project Review Board approved the change at its Oct. 17 meeting.
Also Wednesday, the board approved a final plan for a 14-lot subdivision on Wardtown Road.
After the board gave CF Cousins River, LLC the green light to subdivide a vacant 38-acre parcel to provide “attractive commercial development lots” on the Route 1 site back in August, the need for an additional state permit caused plans to change.
According to town documents, after the applicant was granted subdivision approval by the board, the need for a Site Location Permit from the Department of Environmental Protection surfaced.
The site is being considered by Casco Bay Ford for a new truck sales and service center.
“After discussions with the DEP, it appears that the previous division of land may have triggered the need for a Site Location Permit from the DEP, as it was a commercial subdivision resulting in five or more lots on an area of more than 20 acres,” the staff report states. “This was missed during the review process.”
After that realization, the applicant and Town Planner Donna Larson met with DEP and opted to revise the plan to include four lots instead of nine. The change makes it so the site no longer requires a Site Location Permit.
The staff report also specifies that only the lot lines are changing in the new amendment. Two private roads are still proposed as part of the subdivision, and are proposed in the same location.
Approximately 20 acres will be used for the development.
On Oct. 17, Larson said if the applicant wants to create more lots in the future, they would need to return to the Project Review Board for additional approval.
“What things will look like in the future I don’t know,” she said. “They could come back with that nine-lot subdivision, they might not.”
Following the intial approval in August, Larson said developers of individual projects would still need to come before the board for conceptual, preliminary and final site plan approval. Work has not begun on the site yet.
Less than a month later, Atlantic Resource Consultants, LLC, which represented CF Cousins River, submitted sketch plan applications Aug. 29 for conceptual approval for development by Casco Bay Ford and HopeWell Health Services.
Casco Bay Ford wants to build a new truck sales and service center at the site, which would be served by a private roadway and classified as “truck facilities.” The proposed building footprint on the 5.4-acre parcel is 7,200 square feet.
Jason Vafiades of Atlantic Resource Consultants referred to changing the number of lots the “cleanest way” to resolve the permit issue Oct. 17.
During the public hearing Wednesday, however, resident Erin Clough called the change a “very thinly veiled attempt” to avoid the DEP permitting process.
“I’m disgusted with his attempt to skirt the environmental regulations,” Clough said.
Clough mentioned the two proposed site plans submitted last month, calling the truck facility “the most detrimental to the environment” out of the two.
Because the proposed facilities cover less than 3 acres, Clough said they “conveniently skirt” the state requirements.
“I just ask you to consider that they’re using these rules to their benefit to get through very harmful projects very quickly,” she said.
Vafiades responded by saying because the town of Freeport has “municipal authority to review,” that means its ordinances meet or exceed DEP requirements. That means the project needs to meet DEP requirements “regardless,” he said.
“We know we have to have a Site Location Permit at some point,” he said. “We can’t do anything that would be not covered under the site law of the state of Maine.”
The recently approved residential subdivision on the eastern side of Wardtown Road will include 19 acres of open space and a new yet-to-be-named road erected off Wardtown Road.
The residential site includes fields, wooded areas, wetlands and streams. Adrienne Fine, a civil engineer with Terradyn Consultants, said Wednesday the project will not disturb those areas.
“All development will be outside of that,” she said.
The Project Review Board approved an amendment to a previously approved CF Cousins River, LLC subdivision on U.S. Route 1. To avoid requiring an additional state permit, it will now have four lots instead of nine.