News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 15, 2014
Proposed South Street development hits snag at planning board meeting
Board to review further

South Street, Blue Hill commercial building plan

An architect’s drawing at a May 2014 planning board hearing show views of a commercial building planned for South Street in Blue Hill. The drawings show an 8,000-square-foot building, but do not include an attached 1,600-square-foot space planned as part of the project. That omission caused the town’s planning board to rule that the application from the developer was not complete and to require that an accurate drawing be provided.

Photo by Rich Hewitt Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Rich Hewitt

The plan to build a 9,600-square-foot commercial building on South Street will have to wait another month for approval.

Although the Blue Hill Planning Board held the advertised public hearing on the project, board members later determined that the application was not complete. Oscar Emerson of Down to Earth Professional Land Service, who represents the developer, presented the board with an architect’s rendering of the proposed development, as the board had requested last month. But, that drawing did not match the detailed drawings included in the application.

The detailed plans call for one 8,000-square-foot building with an attached 1,600-square-foot space on the side. The drawing, however, showed only the main building.

The board had earlier determined that the application was complete, but, after viewing the drawing, ruled that Emerson had not provided proper drawings and ruled that the application was not complete.

“We did ask for an accurate drawing of the project and that’s not what we’ve got,” said Susan Walsh.

“I don’t have any problem with what he has here,” said Danner Curtis. “I just want to see all of it.”

The rendering of the proposed building drew criticism from residents during the public hearing.

“To me, it looks like a nondescript strip building, the kind you would see everywhere,” said Bill McDowell. “It detracts from Blue Hill.”

McDowell said that South Street was not developing consistently with the traditional downtown of Blue Hill.

“Do we want South Street to look like a strip mall?” he asked. “I think that’s where we’re heading.”

Emerson said that these kinds of issues are often a matter of perception and said the design, to him, did not look much different than other buildings in that area. He said afterwards, however, that he would be making some suggestions to the developer.

Residents asked questions about drainage and how delivery trucks would maneuver on the proposed site, which would be located between the Dunkin’ Donuts shop and the Irving station. They worried about the amount of water coming off the paved area and the roof.

Emerson noted the Maine Department of Transportation had approved the parking lot plan and that the Department of Environmental Protection had reviewed the drainage plan and issued a permit for it.

The hearing did nothing to shed light on who the tenant of the building will be if it is built. Marcia Henderson, who acted as chairman of the meeting in Peter d’Entremont’s absence, asked if the board could refer to the project as the future home of a Family Dollar store. Since the first application for the site came in more than a year ago, there has been speculation that a Family Dollar would be the tenant. The developer, Tom Ellis, dba Ellsworth Holding, has built a number of Family Dollar and Dollar Stores in the past. But Emerson said that he did not know who the tenant would be.

“A year ago, it would have been more likely [to be a Dollar Store],” he said. “It would have been a lot more probable. But Family Dollar is scaling back and not building as many buildings. I don’t know of any tenant that has signed.”

Henderson said she couldn’t imagine building a building like this one without having a tenant. But the town site plan review ordinance does not require the developer to divulge who the tenant will be.

The board will do its formal review of the project once Emerson returns with an accurate drawing of the proposed building. That likely will be at the June 9 meeting.

An architect’s drawing shows views of a commercial building planned for South Street in Blue Hill. The drawings show an 8,000-square-foot building, but do not include an attached 1,600-square-foot space planned as part of the project. That omission caused the town’s planning board to rule that the application from the developer was not complete and to require that an accurate drawing be provided.