OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Two proposed Old Orchard Beach residential developments moved forward at last week’s Nov. 21 Town Council meeting. The body held a public hearing on a proposed contract zone agreement for a 61-unit development, and approved a second contract zone agreement for a separate 6-unit development. A contract zone agreement grants an exemption to a zoning code — in this instance, regulations around how densely a developer is allowed to build.

Kendra Ramsell, a civil engineer at Sebago Technics, appeared on behalf of an applicant who intends to build a 61-unit condominium development across from Old Orchard Beach High School on a largely undeveloped 19-acre parcel. The developer is requesting a contract zone agreement from the town in order to build more densely. The applicant, Seacoast Land Acquisitions, LLC, plans to include seven units of the 61 proposed to be offered at an “affordable rate,” according to Ramsell.

Because the developer will need to shoulder significant costs in order to connect the development with the town’s public sewer, the project needs to build more densely in order to make the endeavor financially viable, Ramsell said. The proposed development is in the “PMUD” or “Planned Mixed Use” district, which under current restrictions would only allow 19 units to be built, according to an October memo from the planning staff. The proposed contract zone agreement would allow Seacoast Land Acquisitions to more than triple that density.

The Planning Board has recommended that the Town Council adopt the contract zone agreement, so long as the applicant adopts two conditions, which they have. The first condition bars short-term rentals and the second stipulates that roads on the project shall be privately owned and maintained. The council is slated to vote on the contract agreement at their next meeting. Even if the Town Council votes in the affirmative, the project will still need to secure Planning Board approval in the site plan and subdivision review process.

Later that evening, the body green lit a contract agreement zone for a proposed 6-unit condominium development proposed by Land Matters, LLC, a project that first appeared before the town two years ago.

The proposed development would be constructed at 60 Saco Ave., which is located in the “General Business-2” or “GB-2” Zone. GB-2 allows for some residential development, but would need a contract zone agreement in order to build the desired number of units.


Originally the applicant proposed a contract zone agreement for an 8-unit condominium building, but in 2022 the Town Council directed the applicant back to the Planning Board after expressing that they would prefer the development to include fewer units. They also asked the applicant to obtain site plan and subdivision approval for the project from the Planning Board prior to coming back to Town Council with their request for a contract zone agreement. The applicant pitched a smaller, 6-unit project, which the Planning Board agreed to, but did not obtain the site plan and subdivision approval from them. This history was provided by Town Council Chair Shawn O’Neill, who gave an overview of the project at the Nov. 21 meeting.

Gregory Braun, a lawyer who spoke on behalf of the applicant at a public hearing in September and at the Nov. 21 meeting, said that the applicant was seeking the contract zone agreement first because embarking on the site plan and subdivision review process would risk significant investment of resources without a guarantee that contract zone agreement would be approved. Braun also said that the Town Council’s contract zone agreement vote was an opportunity for the body to place requirements on the development before it appears before the Planning Board for site and subdivision approval.

At the public hearing in September, Chair Shawn O’Neill objected to the fact that the applicant had reduced the number of proposed units — acquiescing to concerns it would create too much density — but then increased the number of bedrooms associated with the 6-unit proposal. At the Town Council meeting on Nov. 21, Braun assured the Town Council that the new contract zone agreement capped the number of units at three bedrooms per unit.

The Town Council granted the contract zone agreement, approving it with four votes in favor. Newly-elected Town Councilor Connor Rague abstained from the vote.

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