The proposed Residences at Bethel Station would add 38 condominium units on a plot not far from the town’s old train station. THA Architects.

BETHEL — On Jan 6., planning board members approved a 38-unit condominium complex project called Residences at Bethel Station.

The vote was 4-2 with members Cheri Thurston, Laurie Winsor, Jim Bennett and Pat McCartney in favor and members Duane Bennett and Sue Dunn opposed.

Included in the approved motion was a building height waiver (granted by board with a 5-1 vote, Dunn opposed), the amended site plan findings, and amended conditions of approval — to include a stop sign and performance bond.

Public Hearing

Prior to the board’s regularly scheduled meeting, a public hearing was held  where residents and businesses weighed in.

Dunkin Donuts Owner Bob Seavey wrote a letter to the planning board voicing his support for the project.


“I think the buildings would be a terrific addition to the Bethel housing market,” Seavey said. “We urge the planning board to approve this development as planned for the betterment of the Bethel community and its citizens.”

Seavey said, in his letter, that he also had the chance to review drawings of the development.

“I support this project whole-heartedly,” resident Robin Zinchuk said. “I think this condominium project would be welcomed into our downtown. It would be filling a big empty lot.”

A part-time resident of Bethel had a different view on the project.

“The area of where the condos will be is more or less the entry way to town and I sincerely hope every effort is taken to preserve the small town feel,” the resident said. “Having condos at this particular area would be detrimental to Bethel.”

Resident Scott Cole asked if each unit would receive a separate bill for water and sewer.


Anthony Donovan of Spectrum Real Estate in Portland is one of the people heading the project and said there will likely be one meter that people will share, but he was not definite on it, yet. Donovan also mentioned that the project had gotten approval from the water district.

“I think it makes sense to have individual meters with individual sewer bills,” Scott said.

Fire Chief Mike Jodrey did not recommend moving forward with the project, saying it does not meet Bethel code. In his letter to the planning board, Jodrey wrote that the town does not have a ladder truck or other piece of equipment that can reach buildings that exceed 35 feet. Jodrey also warned that granting a building height waiver will set a precedent for other projects moving forward.

“I continue to have very real concerns about the building height,” Jodrey wrote in his letter. ” The revised drawings provided by the applicant show three story buildings with a total height of 39.3 feet, which is considerably in excess, both in dimension and spirit, of the two and a half stories and 35 feet allowed in the Site Plan Ordinance for multifamily dwellings.”

Jodrey wrote two separate letters to the board and the one addressed to members in late October said that he would not be “signing off” on the project at the time.

According to Chapter 140-6 A, a building height waiver can be granted if  “the Planning Board may modify or waive any of the above application requirements or performance standards or special regulations in § 140-7 when the Planning Board issues a written findings of fact documenting that because of the special circumstances of the site such application requirements or standards would not be applicable or would be an undue hardship, as defined under 30-A M.R.S.A. § 4353(4), on the applicant and, if modified, would not adversely affect the abutting landowners and the general health, safety and welfare of the Town.”

Under chapter 140-7 A (3) of Bethel Town Code on Site Plan Review it states for building height “No new motel, hotel or inn shall exceed 2 1/2 stories or 35 feet above the average finished grade.”

The 7.8-acre site on Cross St. was purchased last March for $399,000.

Donovan, and Gerry O’Connell of the Keller Williams Coastal Real Estate Faulkner Commercial in Portsmouth, NH., are overseeing the project, which will require roughly 150 people to construct, according to an article published in the Lewiston Sun Journal in April.

Planning board members did a site walk last October and in November deemed the application complete.

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