May 24, 2018
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Brewer planners approve housing project

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — City planners approved changing the zoning for 258 Chamberlain St. and site plans for a 32-unit senior housing development that will be built on the land as a partnership between the Brewer Housing Authority and social services agency Penquis.

The City Council also must approve the zoning change from medium-density residential to high-density residential.

The housing authority, which purchased the land in early October from its former board chairman, Calvin Bubar, will operate the estimated $6 million facility, and Penquis will build it. The two have created Chamberlain Place Senior Housing Associates LP for the project.

Planning board Chairman Allen Campbell and member Albert Gibson, who both sit on the housing authority’s board, and John Sheehan, who is a federal employee, recused themselves before the two agenda items concerning the project were considered.

Deputy chairman Joe Hayes was appointed chairman and he and the three remaining board members were enough for a quorum to consider the zone change request.

Sean Thies, of CES Inc. of Brewer, presented the project for the Chamberlain Place group. He said many of the adjacent properties already have similar type housing and, “We think this will fit well” into the neighborhood.

No one from the public spoke when given an opportunity, and the four voting members unanimously approved the zoning change. A recommendation for the City Council to approve the change also was endorsed and will be forwarded to council members.

The 13,700-square foot, two-story senior rental property will have 32 units, four with two bedrooms and 28 single-bedroom apartments, Thies said.

“There will be 16 units on each floor with common space,” he said. “The apartments all have individual access from inside the building” with access gained to the building through a single main door.

To ensure there is enough water pressure in the area for fighting fires, the city and Chamberlain Place are partnering to connect two dead-end water lines in the area of Colonial Circle.

“That would increase the water volume tremendously,” City Planner Linda Johns said. “The project will be cost-shared by the city and the applicant” with the Chamberlain Place group paying $30,000.

That portion of the project is expected to be finished by July 1, 2010, it was announced at the meeting.

The Chamberlain Place project also will include a sidewalk in front with a ramp to the road, painted crosswalk across the street, and a curb-cut ramp to connect to an existing sidewalk on the opposite side of the street.

The project was approved unanimously with six minor waivers and 16 conditions.

“Your project is approved, subject to the City Council” approval, Hayes said.

There was no mention during Monday’s meeting of the investigation into whether the housing authority broke state laws and its own policies when it purchased the 4.16-acre Chamberlain Street parcel from Bubar on Oct. 7 for $280,000.

Bubar served as chairman of the housing authority board until he submitted his resignation on July 9, the day before the purchase-and-sale agreement on the property was signed. He technically was still on the board until the City Council accepted his resignation on July 14.

A recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development review of the housing authority revealed that the price paid for the land was questionable and that state laws probably were violated.

The city, after a recommendation from the Maine Attorney General’s Office, has hired an investigator to look into the matter.

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