FREEPORT — Under a new proposal from Seacoast United Maine, the town would continue to own the land and ultimately the $4 million indoor-outdoor athletic complex that the soccer club wants to build on Hedgehog Mountain Road.

The Town Council decided last December to give the 12-acre site, valued at $300,000, to Seacoast in exchange for future public use of the fields and arena.

However, town zoning regulations prevent the nonprofit club from building the recreational complex in a rural residential district, and the Planning Board recently recommended that the council avoid making any zoning changes to allow the complex.

A Seacoast representative has asked town officials for a legal opinion on whether the project would be allowed if the land and the arena were municipally owned, according to emails obtained by The Portland Press Herald.

Zoning regulations allow municipal uses in rural residential districts, Town Planner Donna Larson said Monday. “The question is, does the proposal meet the criteria for a municipal use?” Larson said.

Larson was scheduled to discuss the matter Monday with Town Attorney Geoff Hole of Bernstein Shur in Portland.

Under the new proposal, town officials and Seacoast representatives would renegotiate the land-transfer agreement so the town would own the land and arena, Seacoast spokesman Mike Healy wrote in a Nov. 16 email to Town Manager Dale Olmstead and Town Council Chairman Jim Cassida.

Seacoast would finance and build the complex, and the town would lease the land and the arena to Seacoast “for a long term at nominal rent with an option to purchase or renew at the end of the term,” wrote Healy, who lives in Freeport.

Cassida said in a follow-up email that Olmstead would seek a legal opinion, then town officials would meet with Healy to discuss the club’s options. If the club decided to pursue the project, the council would hold a public meeting to discuss the options.

Cassida and Olmstead couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

The soccer complex would include two outdoor artificial turf fields and an indoor arena with three fields. The club has about 800 members across southern and central Maine.

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

When the Planning Board considered the project earlier this month, about a dozen residents spoke against any sort of zoning change that would allow the complex. Rural residential zones cover about 70 percent of the town.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: [email protected]