December 24, 2013

Portland developer files for permit for new DHHS, labor building

ELC Management Inc. has proposed constructing a new facility in South Portland that many have opposed.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has received a site law permit application from the Portland developer chosen by the state to build a new Department of Health and Human Services/Department of Labor building in South Portland.

DEP spokeswoman Jessamine Logan said Monday that once the department formally accepts the application from ELC Management Inc., the clock starts on approval or denial of the site law permit, essentially an environmental impact study.

The state has 180 days to make its decision, but most applications are decided within 60 days.

The permit is one of several hurdles the developer faces to complete a project that has been under fire since it was announced last month that ELC won the state contract.

ELC was selected from four applicants to build a joint facility to house both the local offices for DHHS and the Labor Department.

ELC’s proposed location is in South Portland near Portland International Jetport.

The Portland DHHS offices have been on Marginal Way since the early 1990s. The Labor Department offices are currently located on Lancaster Street.

Since the state’s announcement of the award, many have criticized the decision, including Maine Senate President Justin Alfond and Portland Mayor Michael Brennan.

A number of social service agencies also have protested the proposed move because they believe it will be a burden on needy clients, many of whom walk to the DHHS offices.

In addition to the local backlash, the state faces a lawsuit from another developer who is claiming his proposal was unfairly passed over.

Tom Toye, who like ELC Management bid on the state contract, proposed housing the DHHS and labor offices in renovated buildings he owns on Lancaster Street in downtown Portland.

Toye has said he believes the state erred in its judging of the proposals and said his bid was both less expensive than ELC’s and in a better location.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

erussell@pressherald.com

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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