WESTBROOK – A petition that would ask voters to decide whether Westbrook should reverse a recent zone change on a large Stroudwater Street land parcel is headed for a public hearing.

A week after voting 3-3 to deny scheduling the public hearing, the Westbrook City Council voted unanimously Monday to send it to a hearing on April 28.

Last week’s vote to deny setting a hearing date followed comments from city attorney Natalie Burns. She called into question the legality of the petition, which would revert the zoning back to Westbrook resident Jason Snyder’s former “Stroudwater Place” contract zone.

Snyder’s proposed Stroudwater Place contract zone, which had been in place since 2008, called for a major development on the land, including upscale retail stores, restaurants and public amenities such as a skating rink and farmers market. Snyder’s development failed to get off the ground in the years following the implementation of the contract zone, and after he lost the property in foreclosure last year, the land was sold back to mortgage lender Kimco Capital.

Last month, Snyder and his brother gathered the necessary 1,216 signatures needed to add the question to the city’s June 10 ballot.

In February, after the Planning Board and City Council voted to approve a zone change on the land, Portland developer J.B. Brown & Sons purchased the property, planning two separate residential and commercial developments.

Prior to the vote this week, Councilor Michael Foley, who had previously voted to deny the hearing, said regardless of the petition details, allowing for public comment is important.

“I think it’s important to allow the public hearing to take place, and allow those who support and who do not support the initiative to make proper public comment,” he said.

Vincent Veroneau, the president and CEO of J.B. Brown agreed that public input is important.

“I would like to thank and applaud Councilor Foley for reconsidering this vote, I think it’s important to have public comment and would urge the council to vote for that.”

Snyder told the council at last week’s meeting that people “want to have the right to make a decision on this. I feel that not moving this and not allowing it to be on a ballot in June is a massive disenfranchisement of the people of Westbrook. It is very sad.”


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