AUBURN — Mayoral candidate Jeff Harmon has filed a complaint in Androscoggin County Superior Court challenging the Auburn Planning Board’s approval of phase two of the Stable Ridge housing development.

The complaint, known as an 80B appeal, argues the city did not follow its own zoning ordinances when approving the site plan for phase two of the development, which calls for 60 additional units at five buildings.

Harmon, who announced a campaign for Auburn mayor last week, is an abutter to the development, and has been critical of the city’s pursuit of zoning changes over the past year. One such change led to the Stable Ridge development.

Jeff Harmon Submitted photo

He said Thursday his concern lies with the process by which Auburn has been rezoning and approving new developments, which he believes has “not been in the best interest of the citizens of Auburn, and appears to be done in a manner that’s favorable to special interest groups.”

The complaint contends that the site plan for phase two does not adhere to the setback requirements laid out in the new zoning ordinance, known as T-4.2B, meaning it is not in conformance. The complaint says the site plan measured the building setback from the development’s access way or parking lot, a privately owned lot, rather than from the edge of the public way, on Court Street.

“Once an ordinance has been passed, it’s important that it be followed,” Harmon said, referring to the zoning ordinance. “This has wider implications than just Stable Ridge.”


Harmon argues that if this is allowed, other new developments that do not adhere to the zoning ordinances could be allowed in other areas of the city.

After Harmon brought up the issue during an initial Planning Board hearing in February, the board voted 3-4 against the project. However, the board approved the site plan during a subsequent hearing in late March. According to the city charter, appeals of Planning Board decisions can be made within 30 days.

The complaint states the Planning Board’s approval of the site plan is “not in keeping with the purpose of the T-4.2B district,” which calls for “smaller front yards and stoops in a more compact urban environment” and “smaller minimum and maximum building setbacks.”

It says Harmon “requests that the Court order that the Planning Board’s approval of the project be vacated based upon the Planning Board’s legal error.”

Auburn City Manager Phil Crowell said the city has received the complaint and Auburn’s legal counsel will be preparing a response.

Jessica Klimek, president of American Development Group, the Stable Ridge developer that is named as a party of interest in the complaint, said Thursday that Harmon’s complaint is “a pretty clear example of a ‘not in my backyard,'” and that there’s other ways he could have taken his concerns to city officials and staff members.

Klimek said that as someone who is running for mayor, Harmon should be setting “personal feelings and opinions” aside on tough decisions he might face. She said as a lifelong Auburn resident, she is concerned with potentially having a mayor who “is not thinking about his future constituents, who could potentially be living here, or the benefits economically to the existing residents of Auburn that will come from this second phase of development.”

“I don’t think it’s the setbacks,” Klimek said. “I think it’s that he doesn’t want these buildings built behind his property.”

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