Board blesses dorm plans
The Planning Board endorsed Bowdoin College’s request Tuesday for a zoning change that would allow renovation of an old building for a new dormitory.
Board members voted 4-1 to recommend adding collegeowned student housing to the list of approved uses in the Mixed-Use 3, or MU3, zone along Harpswell Road.
Steve Walker cast the opposing vote, wondering if issuance of a special permit specific to the 52 Harpswell Road parcel would be better than amending the zoning for the entire district.
Issuing a special permit also would allow the town to retain a measure of control over the property by attaching stricter conditions gov- erning its use, Walker said.
The building in question is a former assisted-living facility known as the Stevens Home, which closed in 2011. It stands in a diminutive zoning district containing only six other properties. Under the existing ordinance, assistedliving facilities are a permitted use within the zone but institutionally-owned student housing is not.
Bowdoin agreed in late 2012 to buy the building from Good Will Home Association, part of the same organization that operates the Good Will-Hinckley charter school and other programs.
Good Will-Hinckley received the property through an estate bequest of the home’s founder.
Bowdoin maintains housing for its students in parcels scattered throughout town, and in several different zones.
Catherine Longley, Bowdoin’s senior vice president of Finance and Administration, told town councilors in February that acquisition and renovation of the building is part of the college’s ongoing effort to consolidate its enrollees.
During a neighborhood meeting hosted by Bowdoin a few days after the item’s initial Planning Board appearance, Longley assured reticent neighbors that the college has no plan to raze the building and erect larger, more conspicuous structures that would adversely affect the neighborhood.
In fact, she said, once finished, the new dorm likely would join several other student residences already designated as “chemical-free quiet” housing.
After earning the board’s recommendation Tuesday, the item will be sent to Monday’s Town Council agenda for a public hearing date, said Anna Breinich, the town’s planner. Councilors could vote as soon as two weeks after the hearing whether to approve or deny the amendment request.
“The council can even make any changes (to the zoning amendment) if they want to, as long as it’s before the public hearing,” Breinich said.