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18 Portland

www.theforecaster.net

June 26, 2019

Zone

from page 4 buildings that would house market-rate condominiums. This week Bunker said the hope is to break ground on the first of the planned condo buildings sometime this summer. The first building, which would house 21 units, would be built just to the south of the Motherhouse, near a historic grotto. The Developers Collaborative already has all the city approvals it needs to begin work on what it’s calling Stevens Square at Baxter Woods. All of the units would also be reserved for those 55 and over. Marketing materials for the new condos, which are expected to sell for around $300,000, tout their location and shared amenities such as a fully equipped exercise studio, theater, walking paths, community gardens, and fire pits, among others. In all, Bunker said the Developers Collaborative plans to construct 161 units in addition to the 88 already created at the Motherhouse. With nearly 250 units of housing at their Stevens Avenue campus, Bunker and Teare feel strongly that there’s a need for more commercial amenities, from a fitness center to artists studios and professional offices. This week Bunker said the former girls’ school offers the “biggest and best chance to bring outside activity onto the

Contributed

This image shows the layout for five new condo buildings on the Stevens Avenue campus that also houses the former St. Joseph’s Convent.

campus.” The school is located in the Residential 5 zone, and Bunker and Teare are seeking rezoning to either a mixed business zone or a Community Hall zone. The goal would be to attract local businesses and not lease space to national chains. Bunker said the school consists of about 25,000 square feet of usable classroom space, plus a gymnasium and an auditorium that could be leased to a local

theater group, for instance. The Developers Collaborative already has a prospective tenant who’s interested in reusing the indoor pool area to offer everything from yoga classes to personal trainers to more traditional gym memberships. Bunker said between 50 and 60 residents turned out for last week’s neighborhood meeting and that, for the most part, the proposed reuse of the former girls’

school was well received. Overall, he called the meeting “very collaborative.” He and Teare purchased the former school from Wasileski last year and had a long-term lease with The Maine Girls Academy, which suddenly closed in July 2018. The academy was forced to close only two years after transitioning from the Catholic-based Catherine McAuley to a secular school after finding itself deeply in debt and without the enrollment support needed to sustain programming. Before closing, The Maine Girls Academy was the only all-girls high school program in Maine, a tradition that first started back in 1877. Bunker said changing the zone from R5 to some type of business zone is necessary because the uses allowed in the residential zone are too limited. The current zoning, he said, “allows very few uses that actually make sense in that building.” He said the next step is to formally apply to the city for a zone change, which requires both Planning Board and City Council action. Bunker said the timeline for redevelopment of the school building would be dependent on the city process, but said it’s his hope they can soon establish some version of the health club. Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Peaks

from page 3 tend the minimum rental period to at least four hours, require all carts to be labeled with the company’s name and phone number, require commercial golf carts be electric by the end of 2020, increase police enforcement, and require renters of island properties to sign a use and safety agreement. At a June 19 meeting of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee, Steve Anderson, chairman of the Peaks Island Council Transportation Committee, said 81 percent of the survey respondents found the proliferation of commercial golf carts to be impacting their quality of life. During the summer, he said, there are 400 commercial golf carts traveling around the island daily, producing upwards of 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. “Put that in perspective of where you live and it being in your front yards,” said Steve Clayman, of Seashore Avenue. The proposed ordinance, unanimously supported by committee members, would set a cap on the number of golf carts on the island and require commercial golf carts to be electric or battery-powered by May 2021. It would also prohibit them from being stored in the city’s right of way when they are not in use. The ordinance would impose a $75 registration fee for electric golf carts and $150 fee for those that are non-electric powered,and subject them to an annual inspection. Joanne MacIsaac, of Island Avenue, said she has seen a lot of change in the 60

File photos

Golf carts make their way along Island Avenue on Peaks Island in early June. The city’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee has forwarded onto the council a measure that would better regulate commercial golf cart operation. One of the items members would like to see in a new ordinance is a provision that would require a company’s name and phone number be displayed large enough to be seen.

years she has lived on Peaks Island. She said the environmental impact and noise pollution impact associated with the carts is “not sustainable for us.” She said the cap is really important, but “the push to electric is the major focus for us.” One item the committee felt needed to be reworked at the council level is how large a rental company’s name and phone number must be on each cart. The proposed ordinance states the information must be at least 1.5 inches tall, but committee member Councilor Belinda Ray said she would like to see it much bigger, perhaps a 5-inch minimum. Mike Murray, assistant to the city manager, said the 1.5-inch minimum comes

from the ordinance that regulates taxi cabs in the city. Judy Walsh, a year-round resident of the island, said larger identification is needed because it is difficult to see which of the island’s two cart companies a cart belongs to when they are traveling down the road. Both of the commercial golf cart operators, meanwhile, said they have begun transition plans to electric vehicles and are make changes to their operation. Natasha Markov, owner of Peaks Island Golf Carts, said she is “committed to capping our number of golf carts at its current 20 and buying only electric golf carts from now on.” Markov said she is also exploring the use of solar panels on

her electric carts. Mike Sylvester, co-owner of Mike’s Carts, said in an email to councilors that because of the cost and logistics, he intends to convert one-third of his carts to electric each year, completing the transition by 2024. Committee members expressed concern that would be much later than what they wanted, but Sylvester in his correspondence said he will keep the panel aware of his progress on an annual basis. He said his company has already stopped taking one-hour reservations “to cut down on island congestion.” Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or mkelley@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @mkelleynews.

Profile for The Forecaster, Your Source for Local News

The Forecaster, Portland edition, June 26, 2019  

The Forecaster, Portland edition, June 26, 2019, a Sun Media Publication, pages 1-24

The Forecaster, Portland edition, June 26, 2019  

The Forecaster, Portland edition, June 26, 2019, a Sun Media Publication, pages 1-24

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