I’ve seen a lot of these “Protect Lake Auburn” signs around town over the last month, so I thought I’d set the record straight as to how the latest zoning change came to occur and what we are really trying to accomplish with this piece of property.

A few years ago, I purchased a gravel pit between Lake Auburn and Gracelawn Road. We looked at several studies that showed this land was clearly not in the Lake Auburn Watershed. The property is located downhill from the watershed and the water flows in the opposite direction. This is not an opinion. This is a geographical fact as determined by environmental specialists.

I repeat for clarity, the property in question is not in the watershed.

The last thing I want to do is get into a local political dispute, but you’re reading these words today because I’ve heard some outrageous claims about our plans to build homes in Auburn and I felt the need to set the record straight. We want to bring working class housing to Auburn; not the Falmouth Foreside McMansions, but respectable homes that Auburn families can afford on a modest income.

I repeat for clarity, this piece of property is not in the Lake Auburn watershed.

We’ve worked with the Auburn City Council and the Auburn Water District over the last few years to make sure that this rezone would cause no harm to our water quality. That’s why this “Protect Lake Auburn” message is so frustrating. The plot of land in question is not located in an area where development presents a threat to water quality as the site is outside and downhill from the Auburn watershed.


Also, there are several additional levels of oversight that follow this rezone as the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will oversee our plans, as will the Auburn Planning Board. This recent zoning ordinance only gives us an opportunity to meet regulatory requirements for such a development, requirements that we are confident we can meet, or we wouldn’t be pursuing the project.

Home values and monthly rental rates in Auburn are through the roof. If we are going to keep the next generation of Auburn’s best and brightest in the city, we need a creative solution to the attainable housing crisis. I’ve read several half-truths in this opinion section over the last month from people who don’t want this development, but I haven’t noticed folks offering realistic alternatives.

This is starting to feel like a classic Maine Not-In-My-Backyard situation where everyone is for the greater good so long as there is no change whatsoever to their vision of the city. That’s backward thinking and it’s just not a sustainable approach to providing acceptable housing in our city.

I live in Auburn, and I have over 60 employees who live in the area, so please understand that we want to protect Lake Auburn as much as anyone, but the truth of the matter is the petition to repeal the Gracelawn Road rezoning — filed at City Hall on Thursday — doesn’t do anything of the sort. In fact, the only thing this petition will do is deny us the ability to turn an old gravel pit into more green space and will stop us from building more homes for working families.

Our vision is to build modest, respectable homes for middle class families that have been priced out of the Auburn housing market. Our plan includes a unique look for each new segment of housing as to blend in with the current neighborhood character. Our objective is to transform an old gravel pit into a great new neighborhood that Auburn can be proud of, and that’s all that we want to accomplish.

Don’t be fooled by a few folks from across the river who want to pick a fight to settle old scores. Our family has been a part of this community for generations, and we have only the best interests of Auburn in mind.

John Gendron serves as President and CEO of Gendron and Gendron Inc., JIG Investments, and Gendron Aggregates. He is a resident of Auburn. 

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.