Brewer News

Brewer seeks downtown development district, planner says

BREWER, Maine — There are two zoning changes in the works — one designed to help with redeveloping two vacant school buildings and one to establish a downtown development district — and public hearings on both are scheduled for Monday, May 6.

“The Downtown Development District is a two block area downtown between Betton Street, Center Street, and State Street,” City Planner Linda Johns said Wednesday.

The district is bounded on the east and west by Penobscot and North Main streets, she said, and would create a downtown area city leaders hope will attract walking traffic.

“A mix of commercial and residential uses would be allowed to make the downtown active 24/7,” a memo about the proposal states. “The commercial uses are uses which would encourage the general public to walk the street and stop in various retail shops and businesses” with living quarters located on the building’s second floors.

The zoning change would allow for smaller lot sizes and no building setbacks, unless required for safety, and would also make some of the nonconforming buildings conforming, the memo states.

The proposed Adaptive Reuse District is a floating zone, “that is primarily for redevelopment,” Johns said.

“A floating zone is basically creating a zoning district with specific criteria but you don’t actually map it on the map,” the city planner said. “Anytime a landowner or developer can meet those [criteria] they can apply for a contract zone.”

The zoning proposal is being proposed to help with the redevelopment of the old Brewer Middle School and State Street School, that have been vacant for over a year.

“There are several items which have been an issue in the reuse of these buildings, primarily the residential density and parking,” Johns’ memo states.

The change would allow for waivers for developers and landowners, if they have a municipal or school use project for not less than 15 years.

“The middle school is on a very small piece of land,” Johns said. “[Under the change], there would be a certain variety of residential and commercial uses that would fit the neighborhood.”

If a developer meets the criteria in the zone description, they would follow the same procedures needed for any contract zone — they would file a site plan, the planning board would hold a public hearing and a contract zone agreement would be sent to the City Council for final approval. Once the contract zone is approved, the parcel would then be designated on the zoning map.

The Brewer Planning Board’s public hearings on the two zoning changes are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday in council chambers at city hall. A copy of the proposed zoning amendments are available from the city clerk, 989-7050, or city planner, 989-8431.

A copyright article from the Bangor Daily News by Nok-Noi Ricker