Updates on AD Gray
On January 26, 2023, the Waldoboro Planning Board held a pre-application for the Volunteers of America's (VOA) proposal to demolish the former AD Gray school and construct a 36-unit affordable senior apartment building.
Click here for the pre-application material from the January 26, 2023 meeting.
Click here to view the Planning Board meeting.
Click here for the application materials from the April 11, 2023 meeting.
Click here to view the Planning Board meeting on April 11, 2023 when Volunteers of America began their presentation.
By now, you likely have heard about the meeting through social media or by reading about it in the Lincoln County News or Courier Gazette. There has been some confusion about where the Town currently stands with AD Gray, and we hope this post will help address some common questions/ concerns that we have heard:
1. This is still ongoing?
Yes. The Town has been communicating with VOA since they initially approached us in June of 2020 about this proposal. The Select Board placed a nonbinding question on the warrant in November of 2020 to see if residents were open to this proposal for the former AD Gray school. At the Town Meeting in June of 2021, two questions pertaining to AD Gray appeared on the Town warrant, the first was a citizen's petition to have a park in the former school's place and the second asked residents to approve the sale to VOA. The most recent vote on the Town warrant in June of 2022 again asked for approval of the sale to VOA and included the potential demolition of the building. In all three votes, the Town voted to approve the site to be used for up to 36 affordable senior housing units. The Planning Board meeting on January 26, 2023 was an update for the community and an opportunity to exhibit a potential design that would honor the former AD Gray school. Many residents had requested that the new design evoke the feeling and appearance of the current AD Gray building.
Update (4/20/2023): The Volunteers of America was approved on April 13, 2023 to proceed with their project. There is a condition of approval that states the applicant must come back to the Planning Board in the future to receive approval for the final design of the building so it may satisfy the Historic Village Architectural Standard found under Section 7.4 of the Waldoboro Land Use Ordinance. The final sale of the property is still in negotiations with the Select Board and Town Manager. There will be a forum on April 27, 2023 to receive feedback from residents to get input on the design before it goes before the Planning Board.
2. Is that what the building will look like?
VOA hired independent architect, Bob Foster, to keep in mind the history of the parcel and to soften the visual impact in the neighborhood. The flat roof design was intended to hide all HVAC systems and solar panels from the surrounding neighbors, and use the same stormwater system that AD Gray had used. This was an initial design and the VOA was hoping to receive feedback from the meeting. The Planning Board and attending members in the neighborhood voiced their thoughts and concerns about the designs, and VOA and their design team are already considering alternative designs to match the neighborhood as opposed to honoring the original design of AD Gray.
There have been some requests to save historical pieces from the building, such as the "Waldoboro High School" sign at the top of the building (if it can stay in one piece), specific lighting fixtures, and other items that have local sentiment in the community. The Waldoborough Historical Society will be consulted with all of these items in mind.
Update (4/20/2023): As stated under the First Question, the design has been updated, and the Planning Board is still required to approve the final design to satisfy Section 7.4 of the Waldoboro Land Use Ordinance.
3. Has the property been sold?
The property has not been transferred pending the final approval of the Option Agreement.
4. What is being sold?
The area west of Philbrook Lane that contains the 1-room structure, as well as the tennis courts and fields north of AD Gray, will stay with the Town. The final boundaries for Volunteers of America will depend on the approved concept for the building so it can comply with the Land Use Ordinance. The remaining lots that will stay with the Town will be worked on to improve the recreational amenities in the area.
Update (4/20/2023): After receiving input from the YMCA and Maine Land Water Conservation Fund, the tennis courts at the former AD Gray school were considered beyond saving. Due to the minimum lot size requirements listed in the Waldoboro Land Use Ordinance, the Town is discussing to transfer the tennis courts to the Volunteers of America to have them converted into an open space for general recreation. As for the future home of the tennis courts, the Town will be applying for grant funding in 2024 to place the tennis courts at a town-owned parcel that will be more visible to the public and not close to wetlands. The triangle parcel across from the school, and the parcels north of AD Gray building, are all still considered to stay with the Town of Waldoboro.
5. Haven't the units already been sold/ reserved?
VOA cannot rent any of the units planned for this site since ownership of the old school building has not been transferred. Brian Sites from VOA has said that VOA will let the Town know when they are ready to take applications for the units.
6. Who can live in the building?
The project is aimed for seniors (55 years of age or older) that are on limited incomes. The VOA model in Waldoboro will be similar to that of other facilities VOA owns and operates in Thomaston and Topsham. Because VOA expects to obtain federal and state funding, Waldoboro residents are not guaranteed any units; however, we will be kept in the loop when applications for residency are being accepted so we can get as many Waldoboro residents and family members to stay in our community as possible.
7. Is there really enough parking to avoid on-street parking?
The Land Use Ordinance requires a minimum one (1) parking space per unit for a multi-family senior housing project. Outside of this requirement, there is a Traffic Ordinance that was approved in 2012 that states that no one is allowed to park on either side of School Street. The Town can enforce the Ordinance when necessary.
Update (4/20/2023): The project was approved with the condition that 33 spaces will be provided for 36 units. The applicants explained that other facilities they operate have had to follow similar requirements but were left with several empty spaces throughout the year. The Town will be posting signs on School Street to inform people not to park on the road. If people are parking on School Street, residents are asked to call the Waldoboro Police Department.
8. What is the next step?
Since this was only a pre-application, there is still plenty of time for residents to voice their thoughts so VOA can incorporate them into their proposal. As previously stated, the concerns about the façade have been heard and new designs are being considered. VOA has not been shy about discussing their project and receiving community input before putting forward a formal application. As they have said many times, they're going to be here for a long time and want to be a good neighbor.
Update (4/20/2023): The formal application was approved by the Planning Board on April 11, 2023. The Planning Board will have to meet in the future when Volunteers of America has a final design that they believe would satisfy Section 7.4 of the Waldoboro Land Use Ordinance. There will be a forum on April 27, 2023 at 6:00pm that will give residents the opportunity to weigh in on the design, color palette, and any remaining factors that should be considered by Volunteers of America when submitting the final design. After this forum, the final design will be submitted to the Planning Board with a formal public hearing that will be advertised in the Lincoln County News and have letters sent to the residents of the neighborhood.
Update (4/27/2023): Brian Sites (the project manager) is always available to discuss the project and get additional constructive feedback from interested residents. Residents are also encouraged to explore the existing facilities owned and operated by Volunteers of America in Maine. If residents are interested in a tour of one of the facilities, let us know: https://www.voanne.org/affordable-housing
If you have any questions or concerns that want shared with the Town Office or Volunteers of America, please send an email to Max Johnstone at email@example.com.