FREEPORT – A proposal to build an indoor-outdoor soccer complex on Hedgehog Mountain Road failed to win a favorable recommendation from the Planning Board on Wednesday night.

About a dozen residents spoke against any sort of zoning change that would allow the complex, proposed by the Seacoast United Maine soccer club, to be built on what is now town land in a rural residential district.

Many at the hearing said they fear that granting the change for one project, even a desirable one such as a soccer complex, would open the town’s rural neighborhoods to similar operations.

“When you start invading residential areas with projects like this … it’s tragic,” Roben Voigt said.

A few spoke in favor.

“I think it’s a tragedy if we let (this) opportunity slip away,” said Kirk Cameron, president of the Freeport United Soccer Club.

Many also said they worry that the board’s action will carry little weight when the Town Council decides the zoning issue; the council has already agreed to give the land, valued at $300,000, to Seacoast in exchange for future field use.

“I think there’s enough support on the council to go ahead with it, regardless of what happened here tonight,” Gary Profenno said after the hearing. He’s chairman of the town’s traffic and parking committee.

Several residents plan to rally opposition when the council takes up the issue.

“This is about keeping the character of our rural neighborhoods,” Lucy Lloyd said after the hearing. “We’re all in this together. This affects everyone.”

The $4 million complex would include two outdoor artificial turf fields and an indoor arena with three fields, said Seacoast spokesman Mike Healy of Freeport.

The arena would measure 200-by-300-feet and would stand 33 feet tall at its peak, but it wouldn’t been visible to neighbors because of trees on the 12-acre site, Healy said. The complex would draw more than 100 cars per hour during peak use.

The board unanimously opposed Seacoast’s request to change zoning language so similar recreational facilities would be allowed in rural residential districts, which cover about 70 percent of the town.

The board then voted 4-3 against the possibility of designing an overlay zone specifically for the Seacoast proposal.

“I’m not against this proposal,” said board member Theresa Oleksiw. “This proposal is against our comprehensive plan.”

Board members Ann Brandt, Greg Savona and Harry Virtue also voted against an overlay zone. Aaron Cannan, Malcolm Collins and Chairwoman Wendy Caisse were open to the overlay idea.

“It doesn’t seem that (the complex) would be a negative impact,” Caisse said. “What we provide for our children, I find it embarrassing.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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