AUBURN — The City Council decided Monday against delaying new zoning at a 60-acre parcel off Gracelawn Road after the Planning Board previously questioned the need for the delay.

The land owned by John Gendron, which features a gravel pit, has been a central part of an ongoing debate over Lake Auburn protections, and a request to delay the zone change until July was among the first items approved by the new City Council in December.

The change from the agriculture and resource protection zone to general business zone, which allows for a range of commercial uses and housing, went into effect Dec. 9, 2023. Gendron has previously laid out plans to develop a large piece of the property for housing, however many of the city’s new slate of elected officials had been skeptical of the zone change due to the development potential.

The council initially approved the delay in a first reading, sending the issue to the Planning Board for a recommendation, but the second reading failed Monday by a 4-3 vote. Councilors Belinda Gerry, Steve Milks, Ben Weisner and Leroy Walker opposed the measure. Gerry initially voted in favor, but changed her vote.

The council previously argued that the delayed applicability date of the zoning would allow the city to consider amendments or potential agreements with Gendron that could “better position the parcel for a successful transition from the current use as a gravel mining and processing operation, to something that provides greater community benefit and supports the protection of Lake Auburn.”

However, on March 12, the Planning Board recommended against delaying the change, stating that “working with property owners is not within the purview of the Planning Board and should not be considered when making our ruling and judgment.”


During the March 12 meeting, board member Riley Bergeron motioned to give the delay a favorable recommendation, but it failed by a 5-2 vote, with Ryan Smith voting with Bergeron.

Then, the board voted 5-2 to recommend against the delay.

The board said “the public has had plenty of opportunity to present before the board and have been listened to” and feels that “at the moment there is no additional scientific or any other information of value that needs reconsideration.”

According to a council memo, the Planning Board also said the council’s request to delay the applicability date was “prohibiting the developer from pulling permits under the general business zoning,” and the board “generally agreed that it was not in their purview to make zoning decisions considering speculation on what a property owner or developer may decide to do with their parcel(s).”

Eric Cousens, director of planning and permitting, has said Gendron is aware of the ongoing discussions between the council and Planning Board, and that Gendron could technically submit plans under the current zoning, but does not intend to do so.

The zone change was initially approved last year by the previous council after a new Lake Auburn watershed boundary that cuts through the Gendron property was approved by the Maine Drinking Water Program.

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