BREWER, Maine — One city councilor said Tuesday night that he didn’t think the board should vote on a zoning change for a Brewer Housing Authority project until an investigation into how the land was purchased is complete. Two other councilors agreed.
“I think in the eyes of the public, there is a cloud over this issue,” Councilor Larry Doughty said. “I would move that we table this issue.”
Mayor Arthur “Archie” Verow and Councilor Manley DeBeck agreed to table the zoning change, while Councilor Jerry Goss voted against it and Deputy Mayor Joseph Ferris abstained.
City leaders hired an attorney in October to investigate whether any laws — particularly the state’s conflict of interest law — were broken when the Brewer Housing Authority purchased land on Oct. 7 from Calvin Bubar, a former board chairman who resigned in July.
Ferris is Bubar’s attorney.
Bubar was chairman of the housing authority’s board of commissioners while discussions were held about the local agency buying his land at 258 Chamberlain St., according to minutes of the board’s meetings. The 4.16-acre parcel is valued by the city for property taxes at $88,000. The BHA’s purchase price was more than three times the assessed value and more than twice what Bubar paid for it in 2007.
The BHA is partnering with social services agency Penquis to build a 32-unit senior housing facility at the site in question, but needs the zoning to be changed to high-density residential to move forward.
City planners approved the zoning change at their December meeting.
City councilors also handled two other items on Tuesday involving the housing authority: accepting the resignation of BHA board member Frank McGuire and replacing him with Julie Deschesne.
During Tuesday’s meeting, councilors also:
— Recognized George Skillin Jr. for 30 years of dedicated service to the Brewer Public Works Department.
— Approved liquor licenses for Randy Drake, owner of Evolve Club, at 448 Wilson St.; Michael Lucas, owner of Timeout Entertainment, 30 Clisham Road; and Michael Stephenson, Dan Tremble and Jonathan Price, who are purchasing Pepino’s at 513 South Main St.
Lucas’ license was approved with conditions that he fix code issues with the facility’s doors and bathrooms.
— Accepted three separate sums of funds: $3,502 in forfeiture funds from a recent court case that Brewer Police Department helped investigate; $119 in funds from the Pan Am Railway for fighting a wildfire last year in Veazie; and a $50 donation from Charles and Eleanor Fisher for the Parks and Recreation Department.
— Amended an engineering services contract with James W. Sewall Co. of Old Town for up to $35,000 to do permitting and design work for a portion of the Brewer Business and Commerce Park.
— Held two executive sessions to discuss two personnel issues.