BRIDGTON — The Planning Board ruled unanimously 3-0 Tuesday that the site plan for Hotel Bridgton meets town’s ordinances, but the attorney for Save Kennard Street, the citizens’ group opposing the project, said they’re willing to take the issue to the state’s Supreme Court.

Board members Deb Brusini, Dee Miller and Ken Gibbs voted in favor; Greg Watkins and Dan Harden recused themselves.

“If this is finally approved at the Superior Court level, I’m sure that we’ll take it to the law court and beyond, probably for several more remands if this is the way that it will be dealt with,” said attorney David Lourie, who is representing the individual abutters on behalf of Save Kennard Street.

Save Kennard Street said the project will negatively impact the surrounding neighborhood.

Justin McIver of Maine Eco Homes first introduced the 66-room hotel and swimming pool at the Saunders Mill site and two adjacent lots on Bacon and Kennard streets to the Planning Board in 2018. After the board approved the site plan last June, Save Kennard Street appealed. The proposal ultimately went before Superior Court Justice Thomas R. McKeon in December 2019.

McKeon affirmed the board’s decision in June. But in response to Save Kennard Street’s motion to amend or alter his judgement, McKeon sent the proposal back to the board Aug. 4 on the single issue of “filling.”

“Filling,” sometimes called “earthmoving,” is strictly prohibited in the Shoreland Protection Zone where the lot for the proposed hotel is located. McKeon said neither McIver’s site plan nor the board’s decision properly defined what constitutes filling and if the site plan necessitates it.

The three voting members said in their discussion Oct. 28 and final deliberations Tuesday that the site plan does not include any prohibited instances of filling.

Lourie said before Tuesday’s meeting that the board is picking and choosing which ordinances to enforce.

“That’s what they have been doing instead of applying the stricter of the two ordinances … Both the site plan ordinance and the shoreland protection ordinance each say that if there’s any inconsistencies between any provisions, (the Planning Board) is supposed to apply the stricter standard,” he said.

Board Chairperson Deb Brusini said Tuesday in response to Lourie’s claims of negligence to follow the word of the ordinance that the board had fulfilled its duty: “I think we should skip to the narrow scope of what the judge ordered and not consider additional findings.”

Gibbs added, “We’ve heard extensively all the sides in this.”

McIver could not be reached for comment.

“We feel pretty strongly that the Planning Board fulfilled its duty and did so by producing a well-reasoned explanation for the court,” Mark Bower, McIver’s attorney, said Wednesday morning.

Bower said that pending any appeals in court, this is the only approval McIver needed from the town, but may need additional permits from the state.

Maine Eco Homes is proposing to build the hotel at the Saunders Mills site and two adjacent lots on Bacon and Kennard streets. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.