Residents are appealing the Gardiner Planning Board’s approval of a plan to develop former MaineGeneral buildings on Dresden Avenue, seen in September, into an apartment complex called Gardiner Green. The city’s Board of Appeals is to hear the complaint Tuesday night. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

GARDINER — People who live near a controversial Dresden Avenue redevelopment project are appealing parts of the Gardiner Planning Board’s approval that has allowed the plan to go forward.

On Tuesday, 15 residents who live in the area of the former MaineGeneral facility on the south end of Dresden Avenue are planning to bring their concerns about the planned apartment complex, called Gardiner Green, to the city’s Board of Appeals.

In their appeal, the residents say the former hospital building never fit into the character of the neighborhood, but it met community needs when MaineGeneral operated it as a health care facility. They do not oppose residential development or affordable housing, which they say are needed.

Specifically, they say, when the Planning Board approved the Gardiner Green project in August, its findings in three particular areas were contrary to the provisions in the city’s Land Use Ordinance: technical capacity to complete the project, financial capacity to complete the project and the requirements for open space.

In the three years since developer Paul Boghossian pitched the idea to add dozens of apartments and condominiums at the property at 150 Dresden Ave., neighbors have turned out to 19 meetings as the Planning Board worked its way through the requirements of the city’s subdivision and site plan review rules, sometimes at meetings lasting until midnight.

At each step, neighbors have described their concerns about the project’s impact on their neighborhood in general and on property of abutting landowners, identifying inconsistencies between versions that Boghossian had submitted.


For instance, a site plan review application submitted April 21, 2022, estimated the project’s cost at $3.65 million for 34 apartments. A subsequent application submitted three months later estimated the cost at nearly $5.2 million for the same number of units.

In the appeal that will go before officials Wednesday, residents claim that rather than securing information detailing Boghossian’s financial capacity to complete the project directly as the ordinance requires, board members put a condition on their approval requiring Boghossian submit construction costs and proof of financing before a building permit can be issued.

An artist’s rendering shows the exterior of a proposed 34-unit apartment building at the former MaineGeneral health care facility on Dresden Avenue in Gardiner. Provided by the city of Gardiner

They also say board members failed to provide evidence to support their finding that Boghossian has the technical capacity to meet the ordinance’s requirements, based in part on their observation he was unwilling or unable to pay attention to the details in the materials he submitted to make sure they were consistent, or to specific information requests of the Planning Board.

They also say the calculations made to meet open space requirements for 34 units are contrary to what the ordinance says. The ordinance requires 1,000 square feet of open space per dwelling unit, and the open space consist of a yard, garden or playground, but the board approved a calculation that included any undeveloped area, including space behind dumpsters and partially occupied by an existing transformer.

At the outset, Boghossian had an option on the property, but he bought the property during the lengthy review and approval process.

The Board of Appeals, a quasi-judicial board, is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. at the City Council Chamber.

An executive session for the board to confer with its attorney behind closed doors is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.