On June 29 the Belfast Planning Board approved the building of an industrial-sized garage for 41 Wight St. (essentially a residential neighborhood), the new location for offices of the Belfast Water District. This six-bay garage will be 80 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 23 feet high. What will it look like?

Inexplicably, an elevated drawing is not available on the city website. But I have seen a copy, and it bears a strong resemblance to the Belfast Fire Station on Main Street (minus the cupola on top). Will it blend in with the fairly attractive residential-style building already at 41 Wight? Well, no. The garage is seriously utilitarian in appearance, and will be constructed of “granite mix CMU” blocks.

There are no written aesthetic and cultural criteria for such projects that I can find on the city website. I believe that the “In Town Design Review Committee” approved it (though I’m unable to find any written confirmation of this; nor can I find any criteria for approval; nor can I discover whether their approval is required).

And, though neighbors of the proposed garage objected fairly passionately, both in writing and during the public comment part of the Planning Board meeting, the board was unmoved. Citizens argued that this jumbo garage (which will house a “small” dump truck, some pickup trucks, equipment, etc.) is out of place in what is essentially a residential neighborhood. And they are worried about increased noise, and about this setting a precedent for the neighborhood.

The Belfast Water District was kicked out of their location on Northport Avenue to make way for the salmon farm. They had to relocate. But must this mean that they locate a huge six-bay garage on a fairly narrow, residential street?

Yes! says the Belfast Planning Board.

Sara Shute

Belfast