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Neighbors hire lawyer to fight eatery approval, cite sidewalk safety

Heated exchange prompts call for order at meeting
By Christine Simmonds | Jan 16, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Bill Hahn discuses the history of the Thomaston Green.

Thomaston — A joint meeting to discuss the Thomaston Green Jan. 14 took an unexpected turn with the presentation of an attorney letter to the boards regarding sidewalks. Later a heated discussion broke out, ending with a request that the board call for order.

Zel Bowman-Leberge and Daniel Keltonic had their attorney, Kristin Collins of Preti Flaherty in Augusta, draft a letter to the Planning Board requesting they reconsider a decision granting approval to Doug Anderson for his proposed restaurant at 444 Main St.

The main issue in the letter was a lack of sidewalks connecting the restaurant to the rest of the Thomaston Green, which they argue fails to comply with the Land Use Ordinance and the Thomaston Green Design Guidelines.

When Bowman-Leberge stood to present the letter, she stated that she and Keltonic “love this town” and are “uncomfortable to even be put in this position,” but felt it was the only way to have their concerns heard.

Bowman-Leberge and Keltonic are abutting property owners to the Thomaston Green. They say the project will affect the value of their land, but argued their main concern is pedestrian safety.

“The Thomaston Green Design Guidelines say this has to be pedestrian friendly… and I feel the Planning Board did not properly address that,” she said.

Keltonic pointed out several times during the meeting that the Design Guidelines’ call for sidewalks was a requirement, and that “required isn’t a subtle word.”

He also reminded the boards that “the next business that comes along is going to say ‘This is required, but you didn’t do it. We don’t have to do it.’ It’s just going to destroy the whole fabric of this.”

At one point in the discussion, Board alternate Charles Frattini questioned what would happen if Anderson refused to connect to state property with a sidewalk.

Keltonic reminded Frattini that it was not a choice according to the ordinance.

Frattini began to answer him before Keltonic finished speaking, and a brief, heated back-and-forth occurred. This resulted in Bowman-Leberge requesting a “call to order” from the board.

Select Board member Bill Hahn suggested the board “try to find the money to put the piece in from the crosswalk down to Doug’s land, and that Doug put the sidewalk in now” to maintain compliance with the guidelines and the ordinance.

Charles Grover asked “if… Doug put a sidewalk in from his driveway to the end of his property, and the town agreed to complete that sidewalk” would Bowman-Leberge and Keltonic feel their requests had been met?

They said that they would.

Grover then suggested that “the Select Board… put that on your agenda to do whatever you have to do to get that sidewalk done… and I think we can move this thing forward quite successfully.”

Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy volunteered to “investigate putting in a sidewalk on there and how we might pay for it.”

Hahn said there should be enough money in the sidewalk budget to pay for it, and he would speak to Anderson regarding the matter.

Grover suggested that Bowman-Leberge and Keltonic file an official appeal to extend the timeline for the board to “sort it out” with Anderson and the boards.

The Thomaston Green was the site of the Maine State Prison from 1824 until 2002, when it was torn down.

The Thomaston Green Design Guidelines were finalized in November 2008. The site was originally meant to “include a mix of residential, institutional and commercial uses within close proximity to one another.”

Hahn stated there have been “probably 50” versions of a plan created for development, and “a multitude of various interests” from businesses. These include a Dollar General and an assisted living facility.

So far the only approved development for the Green is Anderson’s restaurant.

During the meeting, Hahn said that a Request for Qualifications had been put out to see if there was interest in developing the property.

Thomaston Green design plans (Photo by: Christine Simmonds)
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Comments (5)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jan 17, 2020 09:18

We use sidewalks in Rockland to supplement parking for renters.



Posted by: Anita L Knowlton | Jan 17, 2020 07:57

Ms Damon ,

First the Strong agency is not part of the Village green therefore it does not need to adhere to the same conditions of the Green . The abutters have every right to ask that the town of Thomaston uphold their own Zoning laws .



Posted by: Lucinda Lang | Jan 16, 2020 21:39


The sidewalk is and has been part of the planning documents. The developer hired professionals to create plans. Perhaps all involved did not realize that sidewalks had been designed, approved and mandated for that area. They may have just been overlooked inadvertently. Sidewalks are important for many reasons and uses. Thomaston Green is a popular place for people of all ages throughout the year. There are sports and school age activities, all ages walking the paths, people pushing babies in carriages and elders in wheelchairs and many people walking dogs through the Thomaston Green. Thomaston Green has the additional potential to attract many more outdoor uses. There is no other public open space easily accessed along the entire Coast, with historic views of the village and the St George River. All of the people, and many more, who already are walking in and around the Thomaston Green will probably be customers of the restaurant. They will be parking and walking to the restaurant and to the Green. They may even take their lunch or supper and go into the Green and sit on one of the benches. Or in the Gazebo which is now safe and completed. And think of all the people who park in front of the wonderful Anchor Farm Antiques and the Prison Shop, all of those people will probably also be walking along rte 1 to get to the new restaurant. The sidewalks are a safety issue and a community benefit and a benefit for the restaurant. The sidewalks were well designed for good reasons and are needed.
Thank you.




Posted by: Debra Damon | Jan 16, 2020 18:55

A sidewalk is all they need? Really? A nice family Seafood restaurant is going to open and these two neighbors decide they are concerned about a sidewalk. Did Strong Agency have to put a sidewalk down the side of their property? Someone always has to find fault. Do the neighbors that are disputing this Family Restraurant, walk the property now? I'm just curious.



Posted by: Debra Damon | Jan 16, 2020 18:55

A sidewalk is all they need? Really? A nice family Seafood restaurant is going to open and these two neighbors decide they are concerned about a sidewalk. Did Strong Agency have to put a sidewalk down the side of their property? Someone always has to find fault. Do the neighbors that are disputing this Family Restraurant, walk the property now? I'm just curious.



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