Proposed moratorium on commercial development in Lincolnville looms on parallel track

Lincolnville warns Drake Corner development engineers of possible survey error; outlines proposed moratorium process

Mon, 10/30/2023 - 12:00pm

    LINCOLNVILLE – A possible error with a survey submitted by engineers working for developers of a retail store at Drake Corner in Lincolnville must be addressed before the plans can move forward with municipal review, said Lincolnville Code Enforcement Officer Frank Therio.

    Therio informed Gorrill Palmer engineers Doug Reynolds and Matt Rabasco at the Oct. 25 Lincolnville Planning Board meeting that the land survey that accompanies development plans for a 1.95 acre lot at the corner of Thurlow and Beach roads included a mistake.

    Therio had been informed of it via an email arriving at  4:25 p.m. that Wednesday afternoon, just two and half hours before the Planning Board convened at the Town Office for its regularly scheduled meeting.

    The email arrived from a real estate agent, who was passing along another email from Land Surveyor Mark Ingraham, who had noted that the survey submitted by Gorrill Palmer erroneously put the property line approximately 60 feet onto the neighbors’ property, creating an overlap. (See attached PDF for pre-application materials and the survey).

    While Reynolds acknowledged that the issue required immediate attention, that was not the only wrinkle the retail store development project faces.

    Two evenings prior, Oct. 23, the Lincolnville Select Board voted unanimously to instruct the town administrator and town attorney to prepare a moratorium ordinance regarding major commercial site plans. The Select Board was responding to citizen concern over the proposed retail store development on the vacant meadow lot at Drake Corner, and the moratorium would be on major commercial site plan reviews. The town has tentatively scheduled a Dec. 11 vote on the moratorium, with a date of applicability to be retroactive.

    Maine State Statute Title 30A, Chapter 187, Section 4356, allows municipalities to adopt moratoriums on processing and issuing permits or licenses for a period of 180 days for various reasons, including if, “the application of existing comprehensive plans, land use ordinances or regulations or other applicable laws, if any, is inadequate to prevent serious public harm from residential, commercial or industrial development in the affected geographic area.”

    A moratorium may be extended for additional 180-day periods.

    While the retail store proposal is on the Planning Board review process track, the moratorium question is riding a parallel track and could potentially derail the retail store project, depending on how Lincolnville residents vote.

    Review of the full application had been scheduled to begin November 29, but with the discrepancy over the survey, that date may be adjusted. The Planning Board will not accept an application submission if a required element is missing, said Therio.

    As the original schedule states, the full application submission for the store would be received Nov. 8, with a review of the plan beginning Nov. 29. A board decision would then be rendered by Dec. 13.

    However, the Planning Board will also be holding a public hearing Nov. 29 on the proposed moratorium. That will precede the review of the retail store application that night. 

    The Select Board will possibly discuss the moratorium language Nov. 13 at its regularly scheduled meeting.

    “Given the community climate and conversation and input presented to us at our last meeting, the board felt it wise to look at what our options are and have tools and resources to have this conversation in the right way,” said Select Board Chair Ladleah Dunn, Oct. 23.

    While the name “Dollar General” came up several times during the Lincolnville Planning Board’s pre-application review of the store proposal for Drake Corner, the Gorrill Palmer engineers declined to say what the store is called and who would own it.

    “We’ve asked and they have declined to answer,” said Lincolnville Planning Board Chair Dick Butler, soon after one citizen asked the Gorrill Palmer engineer about the financial wherewithal of the company they were representing and its name.

    Because it was pre-application meeting about proposed plans, the engineers were not required to cite the name of the store or the owners; however, when the full application is submitted, the name would be necessary, explained Lincolnville Code Enforcement Officer Frank Therio.

    On Oct. 25, the engineers gave a brief presentation of the development’s preliminary design, saying the entrance to the 32-space parking lot would be off of Beach Road, and the drive aisles would be a little wider — 36 feet – to allow trucks to better maneuver.  Gorrill Palmer said development of the Lincolnville site is anticipated to impact less than 15,000 square feet of wetlands.

    Additionally, a retaining wall would be constructed around the sides of the building. Later in the meeting, Rabasco said the height of the retaining wall would be potentially 10 feet in height.

    Lincolnville is requiring the developers establish an escrow account for the town to hire stormwater runoff consultants. The increase of heavy rainstorms and the fact that the 1.95-acre lot lies within the Norton Pond watershed highlights stormwater concerns. Lincolnville resident Keith Maguire noted at the Oct. 25 Planning Board meeting that the formerly designated 50-year rain events are now happening with more frequency, “every three years,” he said.

    “There have been quite a few washouts over a few years,” he said.

    Norton Pond is listed by the DEP, the pre-application said, as: “a lake most-at-risk from new development. Therefore, the stormwater management design will be required to meet the Basic and General Standards of the MaineDEP Chapter 500 Rules.”

    In addition to the municipal permit application, Gorrill Palmer is also to submit applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a Tier I permit, to the DEP for a stormwater management permit, and to the Maine Department of Transportation, for a driveway entrance permit. The latter, said Reynolds, has been granted. 

    The DEP had not received an application as of Oct. 29.

    Maguire asked Reynolds whether Primax, the North Carolina company that has retained Gorrill Palmer for the Lincolnville project, performs due diligence to determine whether a community wants a retail store such as Dollar General. Primax Properties. LLC describes itself as a, “real estate development and investment company focused on repetitive retail and commercial projects, nationwide, for our end-user tenants.”

    “They look at the tax map, properties for sale and permitted use,” said Reynolds.

    Lincolnville resident Leslie Devoe questioned the vehicular safety of the proposed project, given the complicated intersection at Drake Corner. The entrance is anticipated to be located approximately 250 feet from the intersection of Beach and Thurlow roads.

    “We’re required by the DOT to get a driveway permit,” said Reynolds, adding that the store driveway entrance would be on the outside of a Beach Road curve, which is “better than the inside of a curve.” 

    Devoe also commented on the Norton Pond status of being at-risk to new development.

    Reynolds said his company was designing to stormwater standards.

    “If we weren’t in the watershed, we wouldn’t be required to do as much as we are,” he said.

    Devoe asked about runoff, citing figures illustrating how many thousands of gallons of runoff are produced from one inch of rain. What would happen with four inches of rain, she asked.

    Therio repeated, “This is why we’re putting something in escrow.”

    Devoe also raised concerns about algae blooms in Norton Pond.

    Reynolds said Norton Pond was not identified with algae blooms.

    “We had an algae bloom eight weeks ago,” Devoe responded.

    The leach field for the store’s private sewer system would be under the parking lot using cement chambers, said Rabasco. He said the waste flow produced would be less than a three-bedroom house.

    When asked about property landscaping, Reynolds said that detailed plans would be submitted with the full application.

    “We will meet the ordinance,” he said. “When we submit the final package it will include landscaping.”

    Lincolnville resident Susan Silverio asked why plans called for parking in front of the building.

    “Because it is allowed?” said Reynolds.

    Planning Board member Janis Kay asked what the buffer might include.

    “We’re working on it, and will provide it in the final package,” said Reynolds.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657