Given a choice, Front Street Shipyard principal JB Turner said he never would have offered the city a second option on where to build a new 22,000-square-foot building he says the shipyard needs to be a successful business.

But after pitching a plan to put the building on a parcel of city property to the east of the Front Street municipal parking lot, city officials asked for another option. In short, he had no choice.

Now, with a final decision potentially less than a week away — the City Council has scheduled a special meeting Monday, May 9, to hold a public hearing, consider additional information about the two proposed sites for the new building and possibly take action — Turner is worried that the chips may fall to the less desirable option.

Option B, as that version of the plan is known, would site the building along the east side of Front Street, covering half of the Front Street municipal parking lot. The advantage from the point of view of the city, is that Option B uses less city land — one acre, as compared with the acre-and-a-half proposed under Option A — while arguably accommodating the shipyard’s need for a building tall enough to be entered by a 40-foot-tall travel lift and deep enough to service boats more than 150 feet in length.

Pushing the 55-foot-tall building closer to the steep ridge between Front and Bridge streets, as in Option B, would also potentially leave views of the harbor from the downtown commercial district intact.

But Turner said Option B would make it difficult to maneuver boats off the travel lift and into the building, and would leave little room outside the building for storage, thereby limiting how many jobs the shipyard could take on.

Those problems, Turner said, wouldn’t exist under Option A, which would site the building farther from the travel lift, along the east side of the parking lot. Option A would also leave the parking lot mostly intact — one partial row of spaces would be lost under the plan.

Residents who spoke at an April 19 public hearing before the Belfast City Council, uniformly expressed a strong preference for Option A. Most, if not all, were direct neighbors of the property, and several said their preference for Option A, which would put the building farther from the residences on Front and Bridge streets, had everything to do with not wanting a large building blocking their view of the harbor.

Several city officials have argued that Option A, however, would block more of the public views of the harbor from the downtown commercial district.

Turner referred to at least one television segment and a letter to the editor that were critical of aspects of the Front Street Shipyard plan — one letter compared Building 5, as the proposed structure is being called, to a Walmart store. And while objections have been few and far between, Turner worried bad press could tip the balance of public opinion over the next week.

“A very small minority can have an influence on people that isn’t necessarily the view of the rest of the gang,” he said.

Front Street Shipyard representatives presented the City Council with photographic view assessments at the April 19 meeting, showing the property from several locations, with and without a superimposed computer rendering of Building 5.

But the Council found the studies, in which the building often filled a majority of the picture frame, not very useful in determining what effect the building would have on views of the harbor. Councilor Roger Lee charged the photos, which were taken from different viewpoints for each of the options, appeared to be designed to make Option A look better. The developers said it was unintentional and agreed to submit new view assessments.

Informal talks with city officials suggest that whether Building 5 will be built is not so much the question as where is will be built and under what terms.

City Manager Joe Slocum said the city property adjacent to the former Stinson Seafood property has been regarded as a bargaining chip in the redevelopment of that parcel for as long as he has been with the city. The developers have said they need it for the business to be successful. And with the exception of some tempered complaints by neighbors at the unveiling of the Building 5 plans last month, Front Street Shipyard has mostly met with glowing praise.

What the City Council has yet to determine is where the building will go, and what agreement will be struck between the city and the developers — a sale or lease of the property — for the use of city land.

Turner didn’t offer a preference of a sale or lease option but said he is hoping the Council will support the Shipyard’s preference for Option A. The building might block some views from the public parking lot on Washington Street, he said, but he is hoping that argument won’t overshadow what he sees as the larger benefit of a working shipyard operating on what has been, for the last decade, a post-industrial wasteland.

“To let a parking lot determine the success of a building is …” he said, stopping himself mid-sentence and adjusting to a more diplomatic tack, “… not my call, I guess. All I can do is plead our case.”