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Planning Update: September/October 2023

Architect’s rendering of the planned new Elm Street entrance to Goodall Library.

By Zendelle Bouchard

The pace of development in Sanford has not slowed despite high interest rates and approaching cold weather. In September and October 2023, the Sanford Planning Board and Site Plan Review Committee approved several new projects and gave extensions to a few others.

New Businesses

Ziggi’s Coffee: Approval was granted to construct a Ziggi’s Coffee drive-through kiosk at 68 Alfred Rd. (Route 4), next door to Alan’s Automotive. The two businesses will share a driveway. Ziggi’s will have a walkup window and an outdoor patio, but no indoor seating. There was considerable discussion at the Site Plan Review and Planning Board meetings about a planned stairway leading from the subject property down to Alumni Drive. Although there is currently little to no foot traffic from Sanford High to Alfred Rd., there was concern that students will walk down to get coffee once Ziggi’s is open. The stairway will provide a safer option for them than walking out to busy Route 4. Ziggi’s is a franchise headquartered in Colorado. Most locations are in that state, but they have begun spreading through the midwest. There are currently none open in the northeast, but a location in Meredith, NH is planned.

River’s Edge Family Campground: The Planning Board approved development of a 55-site campground on 27 acres of land between New Dam Road and the Mousam River, with an entrance on Estes Road. The campground will have a swimming pool, office/reception building, a community building and playground area. Each campsite will have a deck, firepit and picnic table. The campground will be seasonal only, and sites will be rented in advance for the full season. There were some concerns from abutters about potential trespassing onto neighboring properties, but the developers agreed to put up signs and instruct campers not to stray off the campground. Rick Southwick, who monitors water quality on Estes Lake, expressed concern about campers bringing in boats and invasive plants. Planning Board Chair Tom Morgan said the campground is not on the lake, and it is not the owners’ responsibility to keep people from using it, but noted that the potential public access to the lake is very overgrown which would limit any use.

Mousam River Solar: Conditional approval was granted for a new 20-megawatt solar facility to be spread over nine lots on either side of Route 4 south of High Street and New Dam Road. The developer, Walden Renewables, has constructed other solar projects in Sanford. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2024. The area to be developed totals approximately 199 acres. Nearby resident Steve Cabana spoke to voice his concern that too much land that could be used to build needed housing is being turned into solar farms. Samantha Cole wrote that the subject property is prime cottontail habitat and also hosts many migrating birds. “I am concerned the town is too willing to allow natural habitats to be obliterated…under some guise of clean energy,” she added. A consultant for Walden Renewables said the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has raised concerns about potential habitats for threatened or endangered species. State and federal authorities are still reviewing the plans. The City’s approval is conditional on the project receiving all the necessary permits.

Extensions: In addition to the new projects that were approved, the Planning Board also granted one-year extensions to approvals for the Townhouse Solar project on Hanson Ridge Road, the Bauneg Beg Solar project on Sam Allen Road and Pinewood Drive, and the Sanford Battery Storage project on Cyro Drive.

Expanding Businesses

Above & Beyond Catering: The Planning Board approved a 3,500 square foot addition to the catering company’s building on Shaw’s Ridge. The new building will include a function room for up to 100 guests, with restrooms, food prep and buffet spaces. The property will also be improved with an expanded parking area and outdoor event space for a maximum of 250 guests. Owner Gina Sawtelle said the tent for outdoor events will not be a permanent fixture, but will be put up a day or two in advance of each event. She expects to host no more than ten outdoor events each year. Any events with over 50 guests will have parking attendants present. The public hearing featured comments submitted by several neighbors and other community members, with most in favor of the project but a few who were opposed due to concerns about potential noise and traffic.

Harrison Development: Approval was granted for amendments to a previously granted site plan at 58 Smada Dr. in the industrial park next to Walmart. Harrison Development plans to construct a solar carport and charging station over ten existing parking spaces. New landscaping is also planned. City Planner Erin Moriarty said these changes will beautify the site and are an improvement over the original plan. The only concern raised was the mature height of some proposed trees, as the property is in the Airport Approach zone. The planting schedule will be updated to meet those height limitations.

Community Projects

Goodall Library: The Site Plan Review Committee approved the Goodall Library’s revised expansion plans. The original plan announced in 2021 included a drive-through window, but that has been eliminated in the latest revision. The site plan combines the driveways of the Library and the Masonic temple next door into one, and reorganizes the parking area to create more spaces. The building will be renovated with two additions. The first will create a new, larger entrance and vestibule on Elm Street. The second addition is on the northwest side of the building and will create additional area for meeting rooms, storage, and work areas within the building. A new circulation desk will be installed, along with new restrooms. The exterior of the historic part of the building will have some restoration work done. (Because the amount of site work being done classified it as a minor site plan, Planning Board approval was not needed.)

Sanford Christian Academy: The Site Plan Review Committee also approved renovations to the former St. Ignatius gym and convent, now owned by Calvary Baptist Church. The convent will be converted into four classrooms and two residential units. The lower level of the gym will be converted into four classrooms. The existing backrooms and shower rooms will be updated. Two new bathrooms and a concession area will be constructed on the main floor. There were some concerns raised about sufficient parking for sporting events and other school activities, but Planning Director Jamie Cole said there is sufficient offsite parking available nearby, and activities would be held nights and weekends when there is less demand for parking spaces. The Church is also planning to shuttle people from its property on High Street when necessary.

Residential Construction

Guillemette Street Subdivision: Preliminary approval was granted to a new ten-lot residential project which will extend Guillemette Street toward Putnam and Bateman Streets. The extension will be a private road, which will be maintained by a homeowner’s association. Planning Board members debated at length about whether to grant a waiver from the zoning requirement for sidewalks on both sides of the road. The developer, Scott McLoud of Ash Cove Construction, argued that he was trying to build affordable homes and the sidewalks would add too much to the cost, were not necessary on a dead-end street, and would not connect to any other sidewalks. Some members of the Board agreed, but others maintained that the Board should not keep granting waivers for things that the zoning ordinance requires. Eventually they compromised and will require sidewalks on one side only, and they need not be constructed of concrete, but could be asphalt or some other less-expensive material. The project will come back to the Site Plan Review Committee and Planning Board for final approval before it is built.

23 Dry Brook Dr.: The Planning Board approved an amendment to site plan for the Dry Brook Subdivision, which was originally approved in 2006. Berube Builders got approval for two lots to have a shared driveway with a single culvert, but instead built separate driveways with separate culverts. Christopher Knight purchased one of the lots in 2018 and built a home, but then found he could not get an occupancy permit because of the unapproved driveway. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Assistant City Engineer all agreed it would cause more environmental degradation to remove and redo the driveway, so the amendment was granted. City Planner Erin Moriarty told Planning Board members that Berube Builders has been advised by the Army Corps as well as the City of Sanford that any future unauthorized activities “will be considered knowing and willful violations and could be subject to the full penalty of the law.”

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