The Planning Board conditionally approved a minor subdivision known as Orchard Lane off Hatchet Mountain Road proposed by Midcoast Site Development Inc., owned by Eric Simon of Camden Tuesday, Sept. 2.

The green light was given subject to a conditional agreement: first, that the Board's approval is based on information provided by Simon, and it is not responsible for defects or problems arising from errors in that information; second, that the Board and Simon will agree on benchmarks and a timetable for the construction of the subdivision road, with performance of the benchmarks to be certified by Code Enforcement Officer Jon Duke; and finally, that Simon must give notice to abutter Ellie Goldberg regarding work to be done on the road and must keep it passable during construction.

With about half a dozen abutters and other residents present, plus Simon and Will Gartley of the engineering firm Gartley & Dorsky, the meeting began with a public hearing on the project. First to speak was Goldberg, who presented her comments to the Board in writing, and also summarized them orally.

She raised two main concerns. The first was that the subdivision road, which will be built along an existing dirt road that Goldberg now uses to access her property, be improved and maintained in such a way as to “maintain the road in good operating condition at all times and to insure the provision of safe access, including safe access for emergency vehicles,” as her written comments stated. The second issue Goldberg raised was about the proposed bylaws for the subdivision's road association, which she read as requiring abutters to be part of the road association, and therefore responsible for the road's upkeep.

In later discussions of the proposed bylaws, Planning Board Chairman Douglas “Tug” Kellough asked Simon whether abutters to the subdivision were required to join the road association. Simon replied that he wanted to offer them that option, but they did not have to join. Town attorney Mark Bower said his reading of the proposed bylaws was that property owners within the three-lot subdivision were required to belong to the road association, but abutters had the choice to join or not.

In response to Goldberg's request that the Planning Board require Simon to maintain the road once construction was finished, Simon said he intended to maintain it, but “you can't have it both ways,” that is, both refuse to share in responsibility for the road's upkeep and have a say in how it is maintained. The existing 1,200-foot road is 10 feet wide; the first 900 feet of it will be widened to 18 feet, and the junction with Hatchet Mountain Road reconfigured to a 90-degree angle, Dorsky told the Board.

Resident Barbara Bentley, who lives on Mansfield Pond, asked how the Board had addressed the need to protect wetlands near the subdivision. Kellough responded that Board members had visited the site and determined that the subdivision boundary was at least 150 feet – double the required distance – from any water running into Mansfield Pond.

Also speaking during the public hearing was resident Mark Dierckes, who said he was in the construction business and knew Simon by reputation. “This town is in dire need of economic help from taxes,” he said, so residents should be eager to add three houses to the tax rolls. If Simon were proposing to put a subdivision near his home, “I'd be psyched,” Dierckes said.

After closing the public hearing, the Board carefully reviewed the criteria for approval laid out in the relevant ordinances.

All standards were found to have been met, except that Simon had not provided a performance guarantee. Therefore, the Board required the conditional agreement described above.

Simon plans to divide the 20-acre parcel into lots of 13.7, 3.5 and 2.5 acres. Originally, he planned to build a home for himself on the largest one, and sell the other two, but speaking Thursday, Sept. 4, he said he was not sure if or when he would make his home there.

Regarding whether he would put houses on the two smaller lots, he said, "If everything went perfect and someone came to me and wanted me to build it, yeah, sure."

Of Tuesday's Planning Board meeting, he said, "I'm glad that we finally got approval."

The Planning Board must still approve the findings of fact from the meeting, which will be drafted by Bower, and must vote to approve the road, Duke said.