Tim Byrne takes his dog, Geordi, for a walk Feb. 2 outside his one-bedroom apartment at the Stable Ridge complex on Court Street in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file

AUBURN — The Auburn Planning Board rejected a proposal Tuesday by American Development Group to add a second phase of construction to the Stable Ridge Apartments at 555 Court St. that would have doubled the number of apartments to 120.

The first phase at 555 Court St. includes a mix of 60, one- and two-bedroom units in five buildings. The last two buildings are in the finishing stages, with developers expecting them to be occupied by April 1. The proposed second phase would add five more buildings, each with 12 two-bedroom units. The city’s planning department staff suggested approval of the plan.

Michael Gotto, a project consultant from Stonybrook Land Use, said Thursday that the developers are “exploring options,” but would not elaborate. Mayor Jason Levesque said the permit denial came with no finding of fact against the project and believes the Planning Board will bring the project up for reconsideration next month.

Questions raised by members of the Planning Board and residents during the public comment period of the hearing focused largely on traffic concerns and safety, blasting impacts, stormwater runoff and maintaining the character of the neighborhood. Two people offered support for the project during the public comment period.

The developers had hoped to begin construction of Phase 2 in June to be ready for occupancy by summer of 2024. Jessica Klimek, an Auburn resident and developer with American Development Group, said the first two buildings are completely leased, with a waitlist for two-bedroom units and a handful of one-bedroom units, with some 170 applications on hand. When asked, Klimek said there is no Phase 3 planned.

With the existing two-bedroom units going for $1,850 a month, Klimek said in a recent interview that they have seen a lot of interest from the southern Maine market. One-bedroom apartments are priced at $1,650 per month.

When the developers first applied for Phase 2, they said they decided to move forward due to “the housing shortage in the Auburn market and the current tenant waiting list.”

The first phase of construction was approved in early 2022, with construction beginning almost immediately. The development became central to an ongoing debate in Auburn over development growth, and led to a citizens’ petition against the new type of zoning that allowed the Sable Ridge project.

The first phase was approved under zoning known as T-4.2, which was successfully repealed following the petition. However, officials later approved an amended zoning type called T-4.2B. Both are called “form-based codes,” which the city has been pursuing in order to allow for a greater variety of residential and commercial uses in certain areas of the city.

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