Some weeks there’s a second Buzz and a little deja vu.

The Lewiston Planning Board is holding a neighborhood meeting and a public hearing on developer Louis Ouellette’s request to change the zoning at 209 Webster St. to allow a 25-unit senior housing project.

Developer Louis Ouellette wants to create a 25-unit senior housing project on 2 acres he owns at 209 Webster St. in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

An effort to build up to 37 units there in 2016 and 2017 ended with a split City Council denying the zoning change amid strong opposition from neighbors.

City planner Doug Greene said Ouellette’s new proposal is a different project, building 24 new units and sticking to two stories, but it still needs a contract rezoning change to happen.

The space at 209 Webster St. is a single-family home with two wooded acres behind it.

“(Ouellette) already has constructed a six-unit senior housing project that’s directly connected to this property on East Avenue,” Greene said. “He’s kind of using that as a template for what he wants to do in a similar way on the larger property.”

A neighborhood meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The Planning Board will take up the request at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23. A recommendation up or down will again head to the City Council, which will decide.

“There’s still expected to be neighborhood opposition,” Greene said. “There are people who don’t want it to see change, they don’t think a zone change is appropriate.” But, he added, senior housing “is kind of an unmet need in our community.”

Auburn approvals

After fielding concerns and kicking the application ahead a month, the Auburn Planning Board on Tuesday approved of developers converting a nursing home to 10 market-rate apartments at 185 Summer St.

LaValley Properties had originally sought to turn it into 12 units.

“They made some other stipulations regarding turn movements and parking and green space,” city planner Audrey Knight said. “There was a lot of concern around the change of use and the nature of the existing area and the fact that there’s a lot of single-family homes with a lot of green space that are facing this particular building complex and they’d be looking at a big parking lot.”

The apartments will be a mix of one, two and three bedrooms. There’s already a duplex and single-family home with tenants on the site.

The project will still have to go for a building permit, Knight said. “They’re trying to move forward, get this thing completed by summer of next year so they’re ready to rent.”

The board also designated the city-owned St. Louis Church at 32 Dunn St. a “building of community significance,” opening up redevelopment options available in that area to uses including an art gallery, bookstore or restaurant.

Knight said there is an interested buyer. A sale would have to go to the City Council for approval.

“I think their primary use at this juncture is going to be for church services of some form of Christian fellowship,” she said. “They may be allowing the church to be used by others for that purpose, as well. We don’t know until they come forward with their final proposal. They want to be financially solvent and if it’s just a place of worship, that may be a challenge.”

Higher education

Central Maine Community College has taken a “giant room with a really high ceiling” in Jalbert Hall and added a second floor to create new space for three new programs, spokeswoman Heather Seymour said.

“The new space has the same perimeter, but it’s now two floors — there is a staircase going to a full second floor now,” she said.

The $823,000 project, permitted last month, creates space for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and heating technology, and facilities maintenance and management programs, which together have 37 students.

Seymour said the space will be fully outfitted by December 2020, but students will start using it sooner.

“As long as people need to be heated and cooled, there will be a demand for these programs and they sort of go in line with the drive in the Legislature for workforce development training,” she said. “It’s going to be this really intensive, wonderful, high-tech space to train the next generation of HVAC, plumbing and facilities maintenance individuals.”

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 207-689-2844 or [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.