Planning Board approves site plans for a new housing development in Presque Isle

12 months ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle planning board members approved the site and subdivision plans for a new housing development in the space between English and Elm streets.

The board approved the development plans on Thursday, June 15, in a 5-0 vote with board member Sean Nordenhold recusing himself, citing a conflict of interest.

It is the first new, and largest, residential development for the city in the last few years.

The Maine State Housing Authority has contributed $3.33 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for the new development. The total project is expected to cost $4.8 million. Developer Dwayne Gagnon is set to pay $1.5 million for the project, according to Galen Wiebley, director of Economic and Community Development for Presque Isle.

“I think it’s a great project for the city. It’s accomplishing what the city council intended,” Weibley said. “

The city of Presque Isle knows the challenges the workforce faces and lack of housing options is keeping us from bringing new people in, Weibley said.

Presque Isle resident Robert DeMint expresses his concerns over the new housing development project that will happen between English Street and Elm Street at the Planning Board meeting on the third floor of City Hall on June 15. (Paul Bagnall | The Star-Herald)

Gagnon plans to develop the 6.5 acres of the land parcel with less than an acre of area for sidewalks that connect Elm Street to Charles and Blake streets. The development is for three separate single-level apartment buildings totaling 18 units. The units will be various sizes and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An open recreational space that connects to the bike path will be available on the eastern side of the site as part of the Village Planning Partnership to reconnect with recreational trails, or alternative transportation in Presque Isle.

Power lines will be extended from Elm Street into each of the three new buildings in the residential facility, said Tim Roix, representative from B.R. Smith Associates in Presque Isle.

“That Village Partnership Initiative has spurred a vision from the Planning Board that they really want to start seeing [Presque Isle] interconnect our existing residential housing to our downtown and to other recreational facilities,” Weibley said.

The housing development is for workforce housing available to service industry employees who have from low to moderate incomes. Rental prices will be determined by the Maine State Housing Authority. Plans for development of the Elm Street housing project were submitted this year on May 1.

Presque Isle resident Scott Wilson (right) expresses his concerns to Planning Board members over the new housing development project that will happen between English Street and Elm Street at the Planning Board meeting on the third floor of City Hall on June 15. (Paul Bagnall | The Star-Herald)

Presque Isle resident Scott Wilson expressed concern about the type of housing that the new development project would be used for, since he owns part of 55 Elm St. and also 33 and 35 Elm St..

Robert DiMint, another Elm Street resident, shared his concern about the possible amount of traffic on Elm Street and Wilson’s concern about what the housing would be used for as well.

A contractor has yet to be found for the new housing project. Construction could begin toward the end of 2023.