May 27, 2018
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Old Orono mill closer to redevelopment

By Rob Stigle, Special to the BDN

ORONO, Maine — Orono’s dilapidated Webster Mill moved one step closer to redevelopment when the Town Council agreed on an option agreement with Developers Collaborative at its June 14 meeting.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Portland-based real estate developer has exclusive purchasing rights to the property for a period of two years at a price of $25,000 plus the cost of site cleanup. While the monetary exchange between the town and the developer is minuscule for the size of the property, Town Manager Cathy Conlow said the cleanup alone could be more than $500,000.

“Their purchase price will be cleanup,” Conlow said. “It’s a pretty hefty chunk of money.”

Asbestos and other hazardous chemicals have qualified the site for a $200,000 brownfields grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The $25,000 from Developers Collaborative will go toward a town match of $40,000, a requirement to receive the grant. If the developer does not act on the agreement within two years, it may be extended for an additional $25,000.

A stipulation of the option agreement offers some insight into what the developer hopes to build on the site. The site, adjacent to both the Stillwater and Penobscot rivers, will be rezoned as Shoreland General Development to allow for a four-story structure composed of 24 residential units, with provisions that no more than two unrelated students will be allowed to occupy a single unit.

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