FREEPORT — The Topsham-based Seacoast United Soccer Club is ramping up for what is likely the last bid to locate an indoor-outdoor soccer complex on town-owned land in Freeport.

On Tuesday night, the Town Council voted unanimously to set a Feb. 28 public hearing to hear testimony on whether it should approve the creation of a “ recreation zone” that would allow the project to include a 60,000- square-foot indoor arena.

Mike Healy, a spokesman for Seacoast United, said after Tuesday’s meeting that the nonprofit club would likely locate the project outside Freeport if the council denies the creation of that “recreation zone” around the proposed site off Hedgehog Mountain Road.

“If this doesn’t proceed, I doubt that the project would be built in Freeport,” Healy said.

Healy said Tuesday night that other towns have approached the club with interest in hosting the project but he declined to specify which towns.

Meanwhile, the “Save Our Neighborhood” group, made up of neighbors and Freeport residents opposed to the project, has held regular meetings to organize against the project and has amassed more than 200 signatures in an online petition that states opposition to zoning changes that would “permit commercial development in Freeport’s residential neighborhoods.”

The petition opposes the change for what it states would be a violation of the town’s comprehensive plan, but a legal opinion sought by council chairman Jim Cassida in preparation of Tuesday night’s meeting advises that “ there is nothing in the ( town) charter that would limit the council’s advancing consideration of the revised zoning proposal,” and that the proposed zoning change would not require an amendment of Freeport’s comprehensive plan.

The creation of a “recreation zone” at the Hedgehog Mountain Road site would allow the centerpiece of the project — a 60,000-square-foot indoor soccer arena — to be built within that rural-residential district.

But before the soccer club looks to move the project out of town, Healy said, “we have a contract and will try to do the best on our side to uphold that contract.”

A purchase-and-sale agreement signed in April 2011 outlines terms of the agreement between the town and Seacoast, giving the town limited access to the planned outdoor fields and arena for the life of the indoor field’s turf, which Healy estimated would last 15 to 20 years.

As a part of the purchaseand sale agreement, the town also committed to paying half of a $30,000 contract with the firm Milone & MacBroom of Freeport to prepare plans and applications for the project. According to that agreement, $10,000 of the $15,000 from the town would be reimbursed after the appropriate development permits are received.

But that money and the project are on the line with the Town Council at a crossroads, holding a contract for the project with Seacoast and after 4- 3 Planning Board vote cast in November that recommended the council deny the creation of an overlay district for the project.

At a January public forum, some councilors also indicated that the required zoning change to accommodate the project came as a surprise after the council entered into a purchase- and- sale agreement with Seacoast.

“I will stand in front of you all and say that I was not specifically aware for the zoning change that needed to be made when I approved this contract,” council vice chairwoman Sara Gideon said during that forum.

Following the November vote of the Planning Board, Town Planner Donna Larson suggested that construction of the project’s outdoor fields could proceed with no zoning changes, but Healy said Tuesday night that the project will not be built without the indoor arena.

After the heated January public forum on the project — for which the Town Council brought in a professional facilitator — Healy said in January that Seacoast was “investigating alternative sites in and outside of Freeport.”

But review of two other possible sites in Freeport were fruitless, Healy said, bringing the Hedgehog Mountain Road site back into focus.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to set the public hearing on the project for Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Freeport Community Center.

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