A computer-generated rendering shows what the proposed five-building apartment complex off Eight Rod Road in Augusta could look like. Courtesy of John Flatley Company

AUGUSTA — A New England developer is looking to build 260 apartments on undeveloped land off Eight Rod Road within walking distance to the Marketplace at Augusta.

The one and two-bedroom apartments, which would all be market-rate, would be spread across five buildings.

Neighbors expressed concerns about the potential impact of such a massive new development, and the city’s Planning Board tabled the proposal Tuesday to give the developer more time to secure other permits needed, address concerns about traffic to and from the site and further flesh out the project proposal.

Augusta and other areas of the state are currently experiencing a shortage of available housing at all levels.

The project is proposed by Massachusetts-based John Flatley Co., which application documents state has developed other housing projects over the last 10 years. Some of those projects are: 564 units, at a cost of $75 million, in Nashua, New Hampshire; 240 units, at a cost of $35 million, in Merrimack, New Hampshire; 144 units, at a cost of $23 million in Somersworth, New Hampshire; and 492 units, at a cost of $100 million, in Quincy, Massachusetts. Company officials said all those developments are either full, with sizable waiting lists, or at 90% capacity or better.

“I’ve been in the business 40 years; I grew up in the business, this is what I do,” Flatley said at Tuesday night’s Planning Board review of the proposal. “I look forward to working with the city and doing the best we can to make the neighborhood happy with what we end up with. It really will be a beautiful property.”


Several neighbors who spoke about the proposal to the Planning Board aren’t, so far, happy about the proposal.

Lester Wilkinson, an attorney representing Matt Pooler, who owns property at the corner of Eight Rod Road and Old Belgrade Road said Pooler has heard nothing from the developer and is concerned about noise, a lack of apparent screening, and other disruptions from such a large development. His property would abut the development site on two sides.

“You can appreciate if you owned that piece of property and that was your little piece of heaven you might have some severe reservations about this monstrosity going up right beside his building,” said Wilkinson, adding that Pooler was unable to attend due to health problems. “He was not talked to. That’s disquieting and not indicative that we’re going to have a harmonious project.”

Representatives of the developer and city officials agreed the project proposal is currently incomplete and not ready for approval. The project needs a traffic movement permit from the Maine Department of Transportation, a permit for part of the development to be located just 25 feet from a stream and further analysis of wetlands on the site. City officials also said they want more information on some of the site’s design. The Planning Board voted to table the proposal indefinitely.

“It seemed like since this project was so big, coming forth and getting some of the public comment at this stage is very valuable to the board,” said Betsy Poulin, city planner. “It’s important to hear these comments while the design is still in flux.”

The apartments would be developed on a section of a larger, 100-acre lot owned by Calumet Club and bordered by Eight Rod Road, Old Belgrade Road and state Route 3. The development would be on a 31-acre portion on the west side of the lot along Eight Rod Road, near the rear of the Marketplace at Augusta shopping center. The developer holds a purchase option for the site.


The site is undeveloped and largely wooded now.

Mike Whitten, who has lived on Eight Rod Road for 30 years, said he understands the need for apartments in Augusta but said the quiet area it is proposed for is not the right spot for so many buildings where they would be obtrusive.

Poulin said the zoning of the site is low-density residential, where multiple family housing is a conditional use, meaning it is allowed there but requires a higher level of review. The zone requires each dwelling unit on the site to have at least 5,000 square feet of living area on the site. Poulin said the developer sought to address that requirement by buying an additional 8 acres to add to the total property size.

Eight Rod Road resident Nick Rende said that may meet the letter of the law, but “ 260 units in five buildings doesn’t scream low-density to me.”

He suggested moving the main entrance from Eight Rod Road to Old Belgrade Road where ballfields are accessed now. He said that would spare the 100 to 400 cars from the development having to travel on Eight Rod Road where, he said, its intersection with Old Belgrade Road “stinks” because of bad sight lines.

Chuck Hays, president and CEO of MaineGeneral Medical Center, which is near the proposed development, wrote a letter to the city’s Planning Board saying he’d met with representatives of Flatley’s company and he supports the proposal to bring more housing to the region where it is hard to find now.


“As the largest employer in the Augusta area, I can tell you that one of the concerns our staff has is finding adequate housing; that goes for current staff and staff of all levels we can recruit from around the state and the nation,” Hays wrote.

“I understand apartments are at a premium,” Rende said. “I can’t say that I’m against the idea of this, in this location. However, I think there are things the Planning Board can do to make this better not only for folks on Eight Rod Road and Old Belgrade Road, but for the folks that will live there, because putting them on Eight Rod Road, and sending them up to that Old Belgrade Road intersection, is going to be a mistake.”

He was one of multiple residents who expressed concern about the increase in traffic likely to result from the development.

The needed traffic movement permit from the MDOT could require changes to local roads to accommodate the expected increased traffic flow, which Poulin said would bring more than 100 new vehicle trips during the peak hour of the day.

Jim Coffin of Coffin Engineering and Surveying, who is working for Flatley on the project, anticipates the state transportation department will likely ask the developer to put a sidewalk from the site’s main entrance to the Marketplace at Augusta, along Old Belgrade Road. But meetings between the state, city and developer have not yet taken place.

“We don’t expect any approvals tonight; we just want to lay our cards on the table, hear your input, whatever concerns you have,” Coffin told board members and a collection of neighbors who attended a public hearing on the proposal.


The potential for the department of transportation to require a sidewalk as part of the project concerned Old Belgrade Road resident Riley Leavitt, whose home is directly behind the Marketplace. He said he’s worried about having all that foot traffic directly in front of his house, and that he could lose some of his front yard and driveway to the new sidewalk.

Poulin said the developer plans to work with the Greater Augusta Utility District to extend water and sewer lines by about 1 mile, into the site.

Flatley said once the project is approved it would take two to three months for site work, then eight months to build the first building. The remaining buildings would be built one at a time, with just six weeks between them.

The proposal includes plans for a swimming pool, a compactor building where residents would take their trash, walking trails and a community building.

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