County officials have withdrawn an application to the city planning board for a proposed sheriff’s office and emergency management building to be built behind the former Waldo County Jail. Withdrawing the application effectively cancels an optional sketch plan review that was scheduled for March 10.

The planning board requires approval of preliminary and final plans. The March 10 sketch plan review was initially requested by county officials to allow for additional public feedback on the project. At a neighborhood meeting last week, Belfast City Planner Wayne Marshall suggested county officials forgo the sketch plan and work directly with interested parties — in this case, neighbors of the proposed building — before coming before the planning board.

In January, the county commissioners earmarked $1 million for a new building to replace the nearly-200-year-old sheriff’s office on Congress Street, opting to combine the project with a planned Emergency Management Agency building, which was funded in 2009 with money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The resulting building, an L-shaped, 9,000 square-foot, single-story structure with roughly 3,200 square feet for EMA and 6,000 square feet for the sheriff’s office would be built on a vacant lot behind the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center — formerly the Waldo County Jail.

Abutting property owners and others from the neighborhood objected to the plan on grounds that the building would be disproportionately large by comparison with other buildings in the mostly residential neighborhood around Congress and Miller Streets. It would make more sense, they argued, to locate the new building on a 100-acre parcel of county-owned land on Route 52. Neighbors also expressed concern that they had been excluded from the planning process until they spoke up in opposition to the project.

Waldo County EMA Director Dale Rowley said some of the concerns expressed by neighbors could be addressed in the construction of the building. Noise from the emergency operations center generator could be masked by an earthen berm, he said, while a central air conditioning system would generate less noise than the multiple window units in use at the existing sheriff’s office, and any new lighting could be cut to the minimum required under city code.

“Those are the kinds of input we were looking for [at the neighborhood meeting] … [On] the location, we have no choice. We can’t go anywhere else,” he said.

Marshall said a date for the preliminary hearing has not been set. “If they decide after a week, a month, two months — they can call us at any point and tell us they’re willing to proceed.”

Rowley anticipated the county would seek preliminary approval on April 28 and final approval on May 26.