NEWRY – Pending approval by Bethel planners at next week’s meeting, work on the first phase of a proposed 74-lot, single-family residential subdivision on 308 acres spanning Bethel and Newry can finally begin.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, Newry planners unanimously approved the Locke Summit Estates project, finalizing a process that started in June.

Project consultant Tom DuBois of Main-Land Development Inc. of Livermore Falls said the Maine Department of Environmental Protection had approved the project earlier Wednesday. Main-Land is the agent for the project applicant, Locke Summit Estates LLC.

The entrance road to the subdivision is off Sunday River Road and will lead to 28 lots and a common area in Bethel, and 26 lots in Newry. The first phase will be in Bethel.

On Jan. 31 in Bethel, both Newry and Bethel planning boards successfully drafted a list of conditions for approval for the project’s final plan.

According to minutes from that meeting, there were no red flags in reviewing final plans for the project. As of that night, the only condition that hadn’t been met by the applicant was the submission of evidence that DEP approved the project.

DuBois presented Newry planners with the DEP order Wednesday, then delved into a minor change picked up by Bethel Planning Board Chairman Al Cressy.

Newry planners, in turn, went through the dual board-approved conditions and further adjusted them.

One stipulation was that stabilization of roadsides will be done using vegetation rather than rip-rap. Another involved Bethel’s ordinance requirement that the developer file a performance guarantee of $75,000 in the form of an irrevocable letter of credit.

Newry planner Brooks Morton suggested that Newry do the same.

“In our ordinance, there are provisions for a performance guarantee. I think it would be wise for the terrain,” he said.

Planner David Walker concurred with Morton.

“Brooks is concerned that if they go belly up, they won’t sell the lots,” Walker said.

But Newry Chairman Joseph Aloisio said he failed to see the consequence of that, other than an unfinished road. If Newry required a similar performance guarantee, Aloisio said it would create an undue burden.

DuBois said that DEP requires his client to return for further review regarding phases 2 through 5.

Planner Pat Roma said the developer’s financial capacity for the first phase is dependent on the sale of lots, which will carry it through subsequent phases.

DuBois said that each time the developer completes a phase, they are required to submit a financial statement saying they’ve got the money to proceed.

After more discussion, the board chose not to require the performance guarantee.

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