WESTBROOK — Familiar voices from a debate five years ago — when the Westbrook Planning Board was considering a proposal for the state’s largest retail complex — spoke out again Tuesday about a new proposal for the same property, which since has been foreclosed upon.

Kimco Capital Corp., the mortgage lender that now owns the land, and J.B. Brown & Sons, its prospective buyer, are asking the city to rezone about 49 acres of land off the Westbrook Arterial for commercial development and another 15 acres along Stroudwater Street for housing.

Vincent Veroneau, president and chief executive officer of J.B. Brown & Sons, said he doesn’t have a specific plan for the property and wouldn’t develop one without the zone change.

The property is currently under a contract zone developed specifically for Stroudwater Place, a planned high-end shopping center, bigger than the Maine Mall, with public amenities, like an ice skating rink and farmers market.

That project, proposed in 2008 by then-landowner Jason Snyder and his partner, the late New York City businessman Arthur Emil, generated contentious public debate among residents of Westbrook, some of whom were at the Planning Board meeting Tuesday.

“What I’ve seen so far is more respectful of the neighbors and more in line with the vision that we have,” said Stroudwater Street resident Deborah Rumery, referring to the latest proposal.


Rumery, who was an outspoken opponent of Stroudwater Place, said she wants to see the area’s rural and neighborhood feel retained.

However, Planning Board member Dennis Isherwood, who was on the board when Stroudwater Place was proposed, said he didn’t want to give up on the vision created for that property — one that he initially thought was unattainable and later came to believe in.

“It was beautiful. I loved it. I guess I’m just not ready to let that go yet,” he said.

Mark Malone, a real estate broker representing Kimco, said there are wetlands on the property that no one was aware of in 2008, and that make the contract zone “virtually unusable.”

Veroneau called Stroudwater Place a “grandiose scheme” created by people from out of state who don’t understand the market. “It’s just not going to happen,” he said.

J.B. Brown, which owns about 30 properties in and around Portland, would try to work with people from within the community, Veroneau said. He said hospitality, retail and multifamily housing are all possible uses for the site.


“We will come back to you with a plan,” he said.

Snyder, who lives in a house adjacent to the property, also spoke.

He said that in 2000, he and his brother turned down a developer’s offer to buy the land for $15 million because he thought something could be done with the property that was better for Westbrook.

“The current zone is the right zone for the site and will ultimately serve the best interest of the community,” he said.

The Planning Board postponed making a recommendation to the City Council until Jan. 21. The council will ultimately decide whether to rezone the property.

J.B. Brown & Sons has scheduled a neighborhood meeting about its proposal for 6 p.m. Thursday at Westbrook High School.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]Twitter: lesliebridgers

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