Dexter legislator proposes bill to restrict Abbot Hill property development

By Bill Pearson
Staff Writer

    DEXTER — A Corinna businessman’s plan to development the former Abbot Hill school property may be hampered by a proposed bill sponsored by the local state legislator. Gerry Marshall, who purchased the property for $205,000 last year, believes the proposed legislation jeopardizes his ability to develop the property.
    Marshall explained his concerns to the town council on Dec. 13 about what Rep. Ray Wallace’s (R-Dexter) proposed bill would do to his project. Marshall believes Wallace’s bill nullifies the action taken by town officials earlier this year and depresses the property’s value.
    “This goes completely against what the council voted for earlier in the year. This affects me directly and would drastically alter the value of my property,” Marshall said. “If this passes, I really don’t think the property would have any value at all.”
    Council Chairman Peter Haskell indicated he had heard about the proposal, but he thought it was unlikely to become a reality. Haskell responded that Wallace’s action resulted from the Dexter Utility District’s urging  which may soon have a change of heart.
    “When the new year starts it will be a new board. I suspect some change will be made at that time. The bill still has to go through committee so it will be a while before anything happens,” Haskell said.
    Wallace sponsored the bill over concerns that Marshall’s development would pose environmental hazards to the town’s drinking water intake system located near his property. The bill would restrict development on the Abbot Hill property which the utility district believes would protect the town’s drinking water.
    “The DUD has three choices: move the water intake system at a $900,000 cost, propose state legislation to restrict shoreland development or risk contamination resulting in the Public Utilities Commission shutting the utility district down.”
    The property was previously in  a resource protected zone when it was owned by SAD 46. The town council unanimously approved changes earlier this year in the Abbot Hill property’s land use and shoreland zoning ordinances. Both changes were recommended by the planning board.
    Marshall’s plans include building four cabins, a lodge and a toboggan run on the west side of the lot near the lake. On the east side near Grove Street, he plans to build apartments. On top of the hill, he wants a campground with a swimming pool. Marshall would also like to turn the former school gym into a convention center along with transforming the former primary school section into an assisted-living center.
    Besides changing the zone from residential to commercial, the new ordinance allows a campground with 3,000 square foot sites, adds a commercial convention center definition and allows for the planning board to review the campground and convention center proposals.

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