The city clerk certifies Jason Snyder’s petition and the council could ask voters to decide the issue in June.

The developer who proposed building a high-end shopping mall on land he owned in Westbrook is still trying to realize his vision for the property, which was foreclosed on last year and rezoned last month.

Jason Snyder submitted a petition signed by 1,232 registered local voters to the city Monday seeking to repeal a zone change approved by the City Council in February and reinstate the zoning rules developed for Stroudwater Place, the massive retail and recreational complex he proposed in 2008. The city clerk certified the signatures Tuesday.

The council will decide in May whether to repeal the zone change or ask voters to decide the issue at a referendum in June, said City Clerk Lynda Adams.

The property had been in Snyder’s family for more than a half-century before it went into foreclosure.

Snyder’s company, 500 Westbrook LLC, owed $1.9 million in mortgage and interest payments to mortgage lender Kimco Capital Corp., which bought back the land at an auction in May. At the time, use of the land was subject to a so-called contract zone negotiated by Snyder and the city to allow his retail proposal.

Late last year, Portland developer J.B. Brown & Sons entered into an agreement with Kimco to purchase the property, as long as the zoning was changed.

The new zoning approved by the council last month allows commercial development on 45 acres closer to Westbrook Arterial and residential development on 15 acres off Stroudwater Street.

J.B. Brown, which bought the property at the end of February, hopes to build retail stores, a hotel and offices, as well as an 18-lot residential subdivision on the land.

Vincent Veroneau, president of J.B. Brown, said the petition doesn’t affect those plans.

“We’re fairly patient in our development efforts, so we’ll let the referendum take its course,” he said.

Regardless of what happens, Veroneau said, J.B. Brown would not sell the land.

“We’d just go through the necessary process to develop the property,” he said, even if the contract zone is reinstated. “We’ll just wait until the time is right.”

Snyder, who lives in a house overlooking the property, said his petition drive was motivated less by his personal interests than by what he believes the public wants.

“The people do not like the zone change that was made,” he said.

The 2008 rules allowing Snyder’s retail project were part of a so-called contract zone negotiated between Snyder and the city.

Although the Planning Board and City Council heard public comment at meetings before voting on the zone change, Snyder said, “people feel that going to the meetings is a waste of time because planning boards and councils already have a preset determination about which way they’re going to go and what they’re going to do.”

Assistant City Administrator Bill Baker, however, said he feels the project had been sufficiently vetted.

“It strikes me as an odd process when a former landowner seeks to reimpose a contract zone on a piece of land he no longer owns that was recently rezoned through a comprehensive, open and deliberative process,” he said.

Veroneau agreed, saying the referendum “seems like a waste of taxpayer money.”

Snyder said Tuesday it took him 11 days to collect the required 1,216 signatures and was waiting for the clerk’s office to verify them before commenting on his next step.

Adams, the clerk, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Snyder had collected 1,232 valid signatures.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Snyder said when asked whether he hopes to buy back the land. “My only focus now is getting the zoning question on the ballot in June.”

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

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