BRIDGTON — After a year and a half of deliberations and contentious public hearings, the Planning Board has officially approved a 66-room hotel with a swimming pool.

The board presented its written findings of fact and conclusions of law at a meeting June 10 and then voted unanimously to approve the project.

The hotel, proposed by Justin McIver of Maine Eco Homes, will be built on the Saunders Mill site and two adjacent parcels on Bacon and Kennard streets.

The project has been a source of controversy in Bridgton. Some residents are upset about the hotel’s location, size and impact on the surrounding area while others say the location is perfect.

Michael Tadema-Wielandt of Terradyn Consultants said in an interview that there are still a few more steps left, including receiving a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection.

But “with site plan approval, we’re well on our way to getting under construction. It’s satisfying,” he said.

Cape Elizabeth attorney David Lourie, who represents a citizens’ group called Save Kennard Street, said he is already drafting an appeal.

He and Save Kennard Street feel that the applicant has not complied with ordinances, including required setbacks and stream protection provisions.

Lourie believes that after nearly a year and a half of discussion, including three public hearings, the Planning Board members were “exhausted and just wanted to do something before they expire.”

The board voted to approve the project June 10. After local elections on June 11, two new Planning Board members were sworn in June 12.

Although the board allowed Lourie to submit alternative findings of fact at the Monday meeting, the members voted unanimously not to accept his additional 34 findings of fact.

“By the time they got through to the crux of the issue, they just weren’t interested in entertaining my additional 30-odd findings, which would have laid bare that (the project) didn’t meet the ordinance standards,” he said.

“The Planning Board decided it would not take up any of my proposed findings of fact, which is amazing,” he said. “The only explanation is they ran out of patience or they ran out of time or both.”

Tadema-Wielandt feels that the Board did its due diligence in reviewing the project, saying, “I think the Planning Board did a nice job. I think they did a lot of work. They obviously spent a lot of time looking at this, looking at the standards.”

He thinks the project has been improved over its many drafts and revisions: “We tried our best to listen to the community, listen to the neighbors and listen to the Planning Board. We made a lot of changes throughout the process, and we think the project that was approved is a much better project than the one we originally submitted.”

McIver did not respond to requests for comment.

Jane Vaughan can be reached at 780-9103 or at [email protected]

Hotel Bridgton will be built on the Saunders Mill site and two adjacent parcels.


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