Saffron Restaurants reservation The Waterville board approves final plans for the Colby College dormitory

The Waterville board approves final plans for the Colby College dormitory


Members of the Waterville Planning Board will sign site plans for a new Colby College residence hall Tuesday evening after voting 6-0 to approve final plans for the project. Behind the table, from left, are April Chiriboga (signing), Cassie Julia, Tom DePre and David Johnson. Holly MacKenzie, project manager for Colby, stands in front of the table in the City Hall annex on Front St. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE – The Planning Board on Tuesday approved final plans for a new residence hall on the Colby College campus that would house 217 students beginning in the fall of 2026.

The vote followed a brief discussion and questions about the 10,000-square-foot building that will be built on Mayflower Hill Drive, north of and diagonally across the street from the new 72,000-square-foot Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts.

Holly MacKenzie, project engineer with Colby’s facilities department, said the utility relocation will take place over the summer and fall and construction will begin in the fall.

On April 23, MacKenzie presented informal pre-application plans for the building, which would be called The Residence on Mayflower Hill Drive. She said the building will help house Colby’s past and continued growth and alleviate the housing crisis. It will be built on the corner of Cotter Drive and Mayflower Hill Drive, on what is now a wooded and grassy area.

Landry/French Construction of Scarborough is the contractor for the project, according to MacKenzie. She declined to disclose the project cost.

In other cases, John Jabar Jr. presented. plans for an eight-building, 40-unit apartment complex on Washington Street, running from Kennedy Memorial Drive to the Colby College campus. Jabar, who will present preliminary and final plans to the board on May 28, said each building will have a footprint of 30 feet by 60 feet and will have five apartments. The 1,200-square-foot apartments will rent for “probably $2,000,” and the 900-square-foot apartments for $1,500, he said.

“We continue to own these properties,” Jabar said.

Planning Board members asked Jabar many questions, with Tom DePre asking how many parking spaces there will be, where snow will be dumped and if there is a dumpster on the site plan.

Jabar said he believes 80 spaces are planned, with room for more. He said he is considering a waste building on the back of the project, and that there is plenty of room to push snow toward the back.

DePre asked why, if there is a lot of land for the development, the buildings are being built closer to Washington Street.

“This will allow us to come back to you in two years,” Jabar said.

He said he could build four more buildings in the future. The land, he said, will slope toward the rear of the project, where water will drain from the property.

Board member David Johnson said the board should see the landscaping plans and dumpster location on the final plan when Jabar returns on May 28.

Sylvia Spear, one of the partners on the project, said she was concerned about water runoff on the property at the rear of the property, near where she lives.

“I’ve had enough of a water problem there,” she said.

Spear said she also has privacy concerns. She said she lived in China, Clinton and Connecticut and had privacy there.

“We came here because we had woods and privacy and this is going to take everything away,” she said.

Spear, who lives in Lincoln Green Condominiums, said she is not against building apartments because the city needs housing, but she wants it done right and with protections for the people who live in the area.

Jabar said he is willing to do any type of screening that residents are happy with.

“As far as the water goes, there’s no way the water is going to leave my property and just flow into your property,” he told Spear. “I understand that, and to be honest, I will not allow water to leave my property and interfere with anyone else’s.”

Board President Samantha Burdick said when Jabar returns to the board with a final plan, information about an underground soil filter should be included on the plan.

Abutter Sandra Kostron said she is concerned about traffic, as there is already heavy traffic on Washington and Lincoln streets, as well as on Kennedy Memorial Drive.

Burdick asked City Planner Ann Beverage if the city engineer would determine if a traffic study was necessary.

“The ordinance says there’s not enough traffic to prevent that, but he could make some recommendations,” Beverage said.

Jabar estimated the property to be developed is about 1,000 feet from the intersection of Washington Street and Kennedy Memorial Drive.

He said he is ready to start the project and once he gets approval, the first building will go up quickly.

“Once the shovel goes in the ground, it will happen very quickly,” he said.

When Jabar returns with final plans, he must provide a stormwater plan approved by the city engineer, an erosion control plan, the length and width of the parking lot, the utilities plan, the landscaping plan and other details.

The City Council voted 6-0 on September 6, 2023 to approve the rezoning of the property from Commercial-C to Commercial-A to accommodate the project. On May 23, 2023, the council referred a request to rezone the property to the Planning Commission for a hearing and recommendation. The Planning Board voted last July to recommend rezoning.

Jabar told city council members last year that he has done a lot of development in Portland and wants to help with housing needs in Waterville, where he was born and raised. He said many people had approached him about developing housing in the city. The development would be adjacent to the building that houses the Waterville AAA Office on Washington Street.

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