The Larrabee Farms Wetland Mitigation Project broke a contract zone agreement by continuing work past their 10-year term, which expired last year. Contributed

SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council and Planning Board approved a manmade wetlands mitigation project to continue work for one more year after finding the company unknowingly breached a contract zone dating back to 2008.

Larabee Farms, a wetland creation and habitat preservation project, is being done by R.J. Grondin & Sons at no cost to the city, but has been ongoing for almost 13 years.

At the Sept. 18 council meeting, R.J. Grondin & Sons’ request to finish exporting materials from this construction season and completing the remaining wetland creation areas by 2020 was granted.

The wetlands were created as compensation for land impacted by The Gateway Shoppes at Scarborough, a mixed-use project anchored by a Cabela’s store on Payne Road.

Once completed, the Larrabee Farms project will result in the permanent protection of over 300 acres of wildlife habitat, including over 100 acres of wetlands and a 1.5-mile stretch of the Nonesuch River and floodplain. The project site is located approximately 1 mile southeast of the corner of U.S. Route 114 and Beech Ridge Road.

The preservation and wetland mitigation project has been built in conjunction with the town, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In the early 2000s, R.J. Grondin & Sons began a discussion with the town about utilizing the land for the project. In 2006, the construction company entered into a contract zoning agreement with the town for the mitigation project.

In 2008, the contractor went back before council to amend the contract zoning. In the original agreement, work was slated to be done within a 20-year window, by 2026. The 2008 amendment changed the timeline for the work to be completed by 2018.

“We felt that it would help speed up the process by amending the contract zone,” said Larry Grondin of R.J. Grondin & Sons. “But we do need more time to get this done.”

According to Grondin, the project has adhered to the contract zone except for the botched deadline. Neither town officials nor the company was aware of the issue until recently, he said. Town Manager Tom Hall said at the meeting that R.J. Grondin & Sons won’t be fined or penalized.

“One of the things we did was go out on the site with Mr. Grondin to see aggregate work being done,” Planning Board Chairman Nicholas McGee said. “I would say that, while there aren’t currently in compliance with zoning, the work on the site has been done satisfactorily.”

R.J. Grondin & Sons will have to come back before council at an undetermined date to continue giving updates on the project’s progress.

Rachel Hendrickson, vice chairman of the Planning Board, said while there are still several steps that need to be completed before the project is done, it is well worth the time for the town.

“It’s been exciting for us as the Planning Board to see how developers with imagination are taking property that I would look at and think nothing could come of it,” Hendrickson said. “To have a complete wetland area is a real plus, added to the fact it’s free and the work will be done by the applicant.”

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