LEWISTON — After denying a conditional rezoning for a Webster Street property this month, the City Council will reconsider the request Tuesday, potentially putting a large senior housing project back in the pipeline.  

Property owners Louis and Laurie Ouellette have planned to combine the Webster Street property with adjacent properties under their ownership for a 37-unit senior housing project. The house at 209 Webster St., a 2-acre lot, would be razed to make way for the development. 

The City Council on Jan. 3 denied the request with a 3-4 vote following lengthy discussion between councilors and several members of the immediate neighborhood, who spoke against the proposal. 

Councilors voting against the change said the neighborhood comments were enough to persuade them, despite the perceived need for senior housing in Lewiston. 

Mayor Robert Macdonald and Councilor Joline Beam, who was absent Jan. 3, have both since requested that the item be reconsidered.

The rezoning would change the property surrounding 209 Webster St. from the Neighborhood Conservation “A” District to the office residential district. The NCA district does not allow multifamily structures. The Ouellettes also own 151 and 153 East Ave., which are in the office residential district. 

The path toward approval is complicated, however. 

In order for the rezoning to move ahead Tuesday, a majority of the council must vote to reconsider, and the council will then decide how to move forward. 

According to City Administrator Ed Barrett’s memo to the council, councilors could either vote to approve the rezoning, or could recommend further conditions be placed on it, which would require a referral back to the Planning Board for a public hearing.

At the previous meeting, some councilors were in favor of more conditions on the proposal, including a stipulation that the housing be specifically marked for those 55 and older. 

A number of surrounding residents said the large development would have too much of an impact on the neighborhood, affecting traffic and other infrastructure.

The block surrounding the Webster Street parcel includes East and Boston avenues and Moody Street, near Marcotte Park and Lewiston High School. 

Ken Morrison, of 29 Moody St., said during the Jan. 3 meeting that traffic and neighborhood safety were his biggest concerns.

“It’s in a corridor that’s greatly overlooked by the city,” he said of the location. “It’s going to affect our neighborhood considerably.” 

Councilor Michael Lachance, the most vocal of the councilors on the topic, said he believed it was in the neighborhood’s best interest to keep the area primarily single-family homes. 

Those in favor of the rezoning argued that the city is in need of senior housing, and that the city’s new comprehensive plan — also up for approval Tuesday — specifically calls for it. 

Ward 1 Councilor Jim Lysen said he would be in favor of the project if the city can add further conditions. He said the city has a “critical shortage” of senior housing. 

“I know change is difficult, but if it’s done right, it could be an asset to the community,” he said. 

K. Alexander Visbaras, an attorney for the Ouellettes, told councilors Jan. 3 that Ouellette cares about the neighborhood, and “wants to improve the neighborhood he grew up in.” 

The council will take up the issue during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 27 Pine St. 


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