AUBURN — The City Council conducted second readings Monday night on several highly debated ordinance changes in the Lake Auburn watershed, including the rezoning of 60 acres along the lake to a General Business zone, updated septic design standards and an increase in minimum lot size for developments in the watershed.

Councilors approved the ordinance rezoning some 60 acres off Gracelawn Road, owned by John Gendron, to a General Business zone, shifting southerly boundaries. Proponents from the Planning Board touted the move as broadening potential housing and commercial uses and the shift was also recommended in the city’s 2010 comprehensive plan.

Community member Peter Dingley invoked the success of a certified petition last year which put a stop to a similar ordinance change. “It’s like déjà vu,” Dingley said.

Fred Hollar, a 47-year resident at his West Auburn Road home, also spoke out against the move, which he said has already been put to rest by Auburn citizens.

“This has been going on for two years, this argument to rezone. We’ve seen the signs: ‘Save the Lake.’ We’ve seen the petitions which have been thwarted by maneuvering of the issues. We’ve seen the attendance of the hearings, these meetings by citizens. It’s pretty obvious that the citizens of Auburn regard this as a threat to the lake, a threat to their drinking water.”

The council voted 5-2 to approve the zoning change, with councilors Belinda Gerry and Richard Whiting opposed.


Gendron previously proposed an 1,100-unit housing development on the Gracelawn Road land, but never elaborated on the scope of the proposal, not knowing at the time what zoning ordinance changes and watershed boundary revisions would allow.

The septic system and lot size requirement changes were approved in early October by the Auburn Water District Board of Trustees and were recommended by the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission, planning board and, in late September, by an ad hoc committee of Auburn and Lewiston city officials.

The septic design changes alone increase the number of potential developments in the watershed, which is why city officials supported recommendations to increase the minimum lot size for developments from 1 to 3 acres to limit those developments.

Community members criticized the amendment supporting a new septic design because it could potentially limit gardening, hobby farming and other small-scale residential agricultural operations like sap gathering for maple syrup or beekeeping for honey.

Eric Cousens, code department director, said the amendment would still support those activities, but not on a commercial scale. Mayor Jason Levesque said even after passage, there would be a window to make alterations reflecting changes like that. Cousens added that further amendments could be made in the future to accommodate activities as the council and public see fit.

An amendment to table the septic design and consult the Natural Products and Agriculture Working Group, members of which opposed the measure, failed. Councilors then supported both measures in votes of 5-2 approving the new septic design amendment and 7-0 for the minimum lot size development change. Councilors Gerry and Whiting voted against the new septic design standard.

The council also voted 6-1, with Gerry dissenting, to amend the zoning map to reflect a drainage boundary consistent with topography and groundwater flow. The amended boundary, conservative based on the state’s existing data, runs south of the gravel pit operated by Gendron & Gendron Inc.

In other actions the council approved a series of items, including public-area namings which honor Officer Norman Philbrick, Joseph “Joe” Walker, Tricia Asselin and creating a new “Mustang Alley.”

City officials also bade farewell to outgoing councilors Ryan Hawes, Joseph Morin and Dana Staples with plaques, and to Levesque with a plaque and a rocking chair.

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