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Bean's building plan gets initial public feedback in Freeport

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Bean's building plan gets initial public feedback in Freeport

FREEPORT — Town officials and residents were expected to provide feedback on a building proposal by L.L. Bean during a Project Review Board meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

The national outdoor sports and clothing retailer has developed preliminary plans for a two-story, 7,200-square-foot building at its coastal property off Lower Flying Point Road.

The site is home to L.L. Bean's Flying Point Paddling Center, which serves as a training ground for kayakers and paddleboarders, plus cyclists, campers and more, company spokesman Mac McKeever said. The new facility is intended to serve the same number of people as the current building – about 3,000 people annually – but the design will better accommodate those activities.

"It's not an expanded use of the property," McKeever said.

The 29.8-acre property was acquired by Bean in 2003 for $2.6 million. It has 1,200 feet of shoreline, according to previous news reports, and was formerly used as a 45-site campground.

Town Planner Donna Larson said the building proposal fits within zoning restrictions for the area, but nearby coastal residents have expressed some concerns about the plan. She predicted the meeting would be well attended.

"Some people feel it's too commercial," she said of the proposal.

McKeever said reaction to the proposal has been largely positive. Bean held a mid-June reception to share its plans with more than 30 nearby residents, he said, and most were receptive to the idea.

"That's not to say there aren't some critics, but we feel very comfortable that we've been a good neighbor," the spokesman said.

A letter sent from Bean's public affairs manager to the town planner and coastal residents described the project as consistent with permitted uses of the property, which allow commercial recreation, outdoor recreation schooling and campgrounds. The commercial impact at the site has been reduced since 2003, the letter said.

"L.L. Bean has reduced the intensity of use at this property, in terms of both traffic and the number of people who use the property on a typical day. We have also significantly reduced use after daylight hours," according to the letter. "L.L. Bean appreciates the rural residential character of this property and will continue to meet all existing zoning and town planning requirements."

The proposal calls for a daylight basement that includes lockers, showers and storage space. The upper level would house a multipurpose meeting space. The building will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

The plan also calls for the removal of three structures now on the site.

Bean owns and maintains many properties in Freeport, including its flagship store and campus on Main Street, several buildings on Desert Road and two buildings on Stonewood Drive.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.