LEWISTON — Two Oxford Street lots will come in handy for downtown parking in the short term and will let the city steer the kind of development it wants there long term, the City Council decided Tuesday.
Councilors voted 4-3 to pay Hoods Realty $315,000 for the two lots across from Simard-Payne Memorial Park, 2 and 26 Oxford St.
The decision came despite opposition from councilors Leslie Dubois, Shane Bouchard and Michael Lachance and the Lewiston Planning Board. Planning Board members by a 4-3 vote recommended against the sale at their July 27 meeting after discussing the matter at several meetings in May and June.
“I completely disagree with buying this piece of property and I disagree with land banking in general,” Bouchard said. “I think if the owner has people ready to buy it in the private sector and the private sector wants to develop it, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I’m going to say we provided the owner with a great opportunity to make more money.”
Planning Board Chairman Bruce Damon urged councilors to turn it down. City plans say the area should be developed for varied uses, he said.
“But they do not say it should be the city doing it,” Damon said. “They say that should be the goal of the development, but many of us think that private development is the most appropriate.”
Councilor Mark Cayer said the deal was appropriate.
“When it comes to land banking, if the community does it, this is exactly where we need to do it,” Cayer said. “That area will be developed and we are going to get a lot more taxes than now because the project will grow more.”