LEWISTON — A 10-acre vacant parcel on Farwell Street is at the center of a debate over zoning, with the City Council slated to take up a final reading next week.

If the zone change is ultimately approved, it could pave the way for a multifamily development on the land, city staff said. However, neighbors near Farwell Elementary School have questioned the move, concerned about traffic or development out of character with the neighborhood.

The property is part of a broader city look at its zoning ordinances aimed at removing inconsistencies and encouraging development opportunities. The land is owned by Dave Gendron.

According to a council memo, city staff’s proposal for the lot to be rezoned to the “Community Business” commercial zoning was “to support the potential development of the property with multi-family dwellings.”

This Google image shows the vacant land at 128 Farwell St. in Lewiston, which is the subject of a potential rezoning that could allow multifamily housing. Google Maps screenshot

Earlier this month, however, the Planning Board recommended that the 10-acre parcel be excluded from the rezoning of the larger area, mostly due to resident concerns.

The memo said the Planning Board “shared the concerns of the public with respect to rezoning 128 Farwell St., expressing the need for larger buffers, potentially a different zoning district limited to multi‐family development, or a contract rezoning of the property so that specific restrictions could be placed on development of the property.”


Last week, the City Council debated the issue at length, but ultimately voted 6-1 to approve the rezoning with conditions including an additional 20 feet of buffer and no road access from Charles Street.

Prior to the council’s vote Tuesday, many neighboring residents said they’re concerned for the possibility of commercial development and what it could mean for pedestrian traffic in the area, especially Charles Street where homes directly abut the land.

The land also abuts commercial properties on Sabattus Street and the Lewiston Housing Authority.

David Adler, who lives on Charles Street, believes a large development or commercial uses so close to his property would hurt his property values.

“Nobody is going to want to buy my house with businesses in the backyard,” he said, adding that if development goes forward, perhaps housing for 55 and older would be more amenable to abutters.

Emily Darby, a Farwell Street resident, said the shift to the Community Business zoning would be “a huge jump,” and called on officials to think of other ways to encourage development at the site.


“It should be developed in a way that is consistent and conforming with the existing neighborhood,” she said.

During the meeting, councilors struggled with how to approach resident concerns. Councilor Rick LaChapelle suggested approving the commercial zoning, but adding the conditions including a buffer.

Councilor Linda Scott said “people need to recognize this is a prime piece of property,” adding that the city has “a significant need for housing” but that she doesn’t want to see uses like a shopping mall. “We can’t ignore what the neighbors are saying, but we can’t limit the ability for the owner to do something with his land.”

Councilor Lee Clement motioned to table the issue until officials could meet with the property owner, but the motion failed. Councilor Stephanie Gelinas voted against the rezoning.

The council will take up a second reading on the zone change on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

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.

filed under: