Tira Denny of Biddeford bikes along a trail at Clifford Park in Biddeford in this 2020 photo. Shawn Patrick Ouellette Photo/Portland Press Herald

BIDDEFORD — The Planning Board on Sept. 21 unanimously approved the plan for a 19-lot cluster subdivision called West Brook on an 8.31-acre land parcel adjacent to Clifford Park in Biddeford.

The Planning Board separately agreed to ask Biddeford City Council to establish conservation easements on all of Clifford Park, including the 102 acres it will receive as a result of a land swap between the city, E & R Development Corp., and Gervais Dube.

The City Council authorized the city manager to execute land conveyances with Mike Eon of E & R Development Corp, and with Dube in October 2020. The conveyance gives 4.2 acres of land currently in Clifford Park to Eon in exchange for 60 acres he owns. Dube offered to gift 42 acres to the city, for recreational use. Eon at the Sept. 7 Planning Board session said the land he will receive is now about 2.9 acres.

The subdivision proposal became contentious over time with many expressing concerns for wildlife in the area. A group called Stop West Brook had gathered 500 signatures to try and halt it.

“Work has been done by the  applicant to address concerns,” said City Planner Matthew Grooms, in part. “We maintain our original recommendation with conditions of approval.”

Grooms in a telephone interview explained that a change was made to a critter fence along the wildlife corridor. As a result of a meeting between Eon’s representatives and Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the so-called critter fence will now include ways for wildlife to make their way from the residential areas to the wildlife corridor, but the animals will not be able to re-enter the residential area.


The wildlife corridor is to be at least 150 feet wide and is wider in some places, said Grooms.

Eon told the Planning Board other changes were made, including the provision that no oil-fired appliances be installed in the homes; propane or natural gas are acceptable.

As with most approvals, the vote comes with conditions. Among them are that the applicant provide an updated storm water maintenance agreement for review and approval by Biddeford Public Works; an update of final site plans, and reviews by the city planner and others. It notes any building permit is contingent on the successful execution of the three-party land exchange; speaks to the critter fence update and the need for a preconstruction meeting.

“Can we make decisions about a development this highly contested,” that likely do not concur with future development plans for Biddeford, asked resident Maya Atlas, who noted the city’s current Comprehensive Plan dates to 1999. “Is there any way we can continue to delay this?” Atlas asked.

Later in the meeting, Planning Board Chair William Southwick noted that a new Comprehensive Plan is being developed — but that in the meantime, the current one and the current zoning regulations must be followed.

“Biddeford is now a cool town; you don’t have to encourage people to move here,” said resident Charlie Gould. “The park is a jewel. it is what people come to Biddeford for,” Gould said, adding that he would like to see Eon get paid for the land and not develop it.

“Give me 90 days and we’ll work with Mr. Eon and get this done and declare victory,” Gould said.

Following the unanimous vote to approve the subdivision plan, Southwick addressed the audience.

“This has been a very engaged process,” Southwick said. “From its origin (until) now it is a somewhat different project … I appreciate your advocacy for your point of view, and a lot of information will be considered as we move forward with the comprehensive plan.”

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