York planners give new police station initial approval despite selectman’s concerns

Posted May 14, 2014, at 1:49 p.m.

YORK, Maine — Over the objections of member Lew Stowe, the York Planning Board last week accepted the police station project application as complete and gave it preliminary approval.

In the affirmative on the 4-1 vote Tuesday were Chairman Todd Frederick, Al Cotton, Peter Smith and Amy Phalon.

“This is deja vu,” Stowe said after the board also voted 4-1 on the completeness of the application. His comment was ostensibly a reference to the board’s acceptance of the police station project two years ago. “This is where Torbert [Macdonald] walks out; I’m not walking out.”

Former Planning Board member Torbert Macdonald, now a selectman, has questioned the police station project from both seats.

Only Stowe and Frederick remain as members of the Planning Board that originally accepted the project in 2012. The board later rescinded approvals when issues arose over federal and state environmental concerns of tree overcutting on the proposed road and debris placed in a vernal pool buffer.

The town’s proposal to build an 18,000-square-foot police station off Ridge Road and a connector road to Route 1 is back before the Planning Board as a new project. As Frederick tried to steer Stowe toward reviewing the project as original, subject to town ordinances, Stowe indicated past mistakes needed to be avoided.

Stowe handed other board members a list of his concerns in a document that was pages long. He got through the first — boundary survey issues — before Frederick called for a vote on the original motion on the application.

Stowe said, “The question I get [from the public] is, ‘Why did you guys approve it in the first place when you knew there could be legal challenges on the boundaries?’”

Planning Board member Peter Smith said the boundary issues were outlined by the independent planners for the project, which meant they would continue to be addressed.

A major issue with the new project is what to do with the planned connector road.

Voters last May rejected a $500,000 signal light on Route 1 at the intersection with the connector road.

The Maine Department of Transportation is expected to do a traffic study at the proposed intersection this summer.

Lee Jay Feldman, the town’s independent planner for the project, told the Planning Board that nothing could connect to Route 1 until the town gets the additional traffic data.

“We’re still unclear,” Feldman said. “Is the applicant proposing to phase the road, proposing to build the whole road and put in Jersey barriers, or are they going to cul-de-sac the roadway to the police station and not build the through road?”

Andrew Johnston, the engineer for the town project, said the road would be built but there would be no access to Route 1 until after the study is done.

Feldman said a traffic study also needs to be done on the Ridge Road end.

“What happens at Route 1 is probably going to happen at Ridge Road,” he said.

 

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Portland