The city of Saco and the developer behind an ambitious plan to transform Saco Island have reached an agreement to resolve a notice of violation issued after the property was cleared of trees in violation of the city’s shoreland zoning standards.

The notice of violation and stop-work order were issued Nov. 3 by code enforcement officer Richard Lambert after trees were cleared from 30,000 to 70,000 square feet of the 6-acre lot adjacent to the Saco River in downtown Saco. Developer Bernie Saulnier in July announced plans for a $40 million mixed-use project on Saco Island that will include apartments, a hotel and a marina.

The agreement reached this week calls for Saulnier, of J&B Partners, to immediately install erosion and sediment controls throughout the property to prevent potential storm water runoff from carrying soil into the river. A mitigation plan must also be submitted to the city for review and approval that will indicate how the property will be restored if the development does not occur, according to city officials.

The city will not issue fines in connection with the violation. Saulnier has said he had sumac and other overgrowth removed from the property to clean it up while surveying and testing is being done.

The city’s shoreline zoning ordinance regulates tree cutting on properties within 250 feet of the Saco River. Property owners cannot cut more than 40 percent of trees of a certain size in a 10-year period. While no permit to cut trees is required, Lambert said, the city will review plans to ensure tree cutting meets the requirements.

“This was a misstep on the part of the developer and we are seeking to correct it and move forward,” Lambert said. “This is a wonderful project for the city and when completed will be a fantastic gateway into Saco.”

Saulnier said he plans to submit development plans for Saco Island to the planning board in early 2018.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at:

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