Berwick, contractor working off different sets of plans for school rehab

Posted April 07, 2012, at 5:29 a.m.

BERWICK, Maine — A construction permit filed with the Maine State Fire Marshal’s office is increasing residents’ concerns as to why the Planning Board and Bateman Partners LLC have been working from two different sets of building plans for construction on the former Sullivan Street School.

The Bateman permit filed with the fire marshal is for 12,840 square feet for an addition, but the town had an expectation of less than 8,400 square feet.

The “construction permit with barrier free” was filed by “Sullivan School Associates LP,” also known as Bateman Partners LLC, on July 14, 2011. This date is a month and a half before the town gathered on Aug. 31 for a special town meeting to discuss and vote on entering into a 75- or 99-year lease with Bateman.

The town voted to not enter into a 99-year lease, while selectmen, with pressure of legal action by Bateman, voted 3-2 to enter into a 75-year lease. It is unclear as to why the construction permit was filed in advance of the approval to sign and enter the 75-year lease.

Also, the permit lists three types of “cost factors” including “renovation sq. footage,” “new construction sq. footage,” and “total sq. footage.” The factor that has caused much concern and in the community is the “new construction sq. footage” which many believe describes the square footage of the new addition to be built on the left hand, backside, of the former school.

The factor lists a number of 12,840 square feet, which many residents have claimed is around 3,000 square feet larger than the original size of the addition approved in an amended parking plan by the Planning Board on Feb. 3, 2011.

According to Planning Board chair Kerry Ashburn, the original size of the addition, in regards to “rough math,” would equal less than 8,400 square feet.

Lastly, the construction permit shows an expiration date of Jan. 13, 2012, yet construction continued there until a stop-work order was placed on the building on Monday, April 2. The parameters surrounding the start and end dates of the permit, as well as who filed the permit are unknown.

The permit does not describe how many bedrooms were planned for the structure, which was another topic of contention and frustration expressed by residents, as reported Wednesday in Foster’s.

Bateman is saying they have a signed land-use permit from the Code Enforcement Officer Jim Webster, that allows construction for three-bedroom apartments. Town Manager Keith Trefethen says the land-use permit signed by Webster is only for efficiencies and one and two-bedroom apartments, the plan approved by the board.

Phone calls to Trefethen and Nathan Bateman to help explain the questions and contradictions went unanswered by press time Friday.

© 2012 the Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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