A proposed 10,750-square-foot building that would house the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management Agency is scheduled to come before the Belfast Planning Board for final approval at the board’s next meeting July 28.

County officials conceived the building as a solution to the marginal working conditions of both the sheriff’s and EMA offices — a nearly 200-year-old, converted single-family home, and the basement of the former Waldo County Jail, respectively.

The new single-story, L-shaped building would be constructed on a vacant lot behind the former jail — now the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center — between Miller and Congress streets.

The estimated total cost is $1.4 million, $360,000 of which would be paid through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant received by Waldo County EMA in 2009. The remaining share, roughly $1 million, is to be paid from a combination of county capital project accounts and reserve accounts.

Abutters of the property have objected to locating a building of that size in the historic residential neighborhood, however, the proposed use is consistent with the zoning district the property is in and to date the Planning Board has requested only minor changes to the plans.

According to City Planner Wayne Marshall, the city’s InTown Design Review Committee requested several cosmetic changes at a July 15 hearing, including eliminating a brick course along the lower half of the building facade and making some changes to the location and dimensions of windows, but the project has not changed substantially since it was first approved by the county in January.

The new building would lie within a city zone subject to mandatory participation in the design review process, but since it is outside of the core downtown commercial district, compliance is voluntary.

During the approval process, the Planning Board has raised concerns about the fate of the current Sheriff’s Office building, and several board members have said they would like to see some parking spaces removed from around the old house to restore a residential appearance.

The commissioners have proposed using the current Sheriff’s Office building for storage and offices for two or three county employees.

The board has also made project approval contingent upon the results of a Maine Department of Environmental Protection investigation into a smell that a neighbor said might be emanating from the county property.

County Commissioner Donald Berry said the timeframe for construction if the building is approved is yet to be determined, though he said he hoped to have the project under way by September. Berry said he had seen some statistics from DEP regarding the alleged smell, and that they appeared favorable toward the county’s plans.

Thierry Bonneville, an abutting property owner, who, along with several other neighbors, has been outspoken in his opposition to the new building, said he was disappointed that the project was moving forward. As of July 20, he was undecided as to whether he would attend the Planning Board meeting July 28.

“As a neighborhood, we don’t really know what we can do,” he said. “… We can’t hire lawyers and consultants the way the Waldo County [commissioners] can do.”

Bonneville said his main concern now is the landscaping between the building and the abutting properties.

“We’re hoping for, at least, bigger trees, the right trees, and trees on the Franklin Street side [of the new building],” he said.

Seth Benz, another abutting property owner who has voiced opposition to the new building, said he had no further plans to challenge the project. His previous concerns, he said, had centered on the fact that the county combined the proposed sheriff’s office with an existing, federally funded plan for a standalone EMA building. Benz said he had been trying to obtain documentation from the county showing that the change was authorized.

“I have finally seen it, and am convinced, as far as I know, that they have their papers in order,” he said. “I plan on going and wishing them well.”