Council optimistic about Peirce School apartments

Neighbors object to plan for rentals; second reading Jan. 15
By Ethan Andrews | Jan 01, 2019
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Matt Francis of Reservoir Ventures LLC speaks to the Belfast City Council on Dec. 18 about his proposal to convert the former Peirce School to apartments.

Belfast — The City Council on Jan. 15 will consider final approval of zoning changes to pave the way for the former Peirce School to be converted to apartments.

Over objections from neighbors, the council on Dec. 18 gave preliminary approval to a change in the contract rezoning rules for the building, expanding residential ownership options to include single-owner rentals, not just condominiums.

The 103-year-old building at 24 Church St. has not been a school since 2003 and is currently vacant. It was last used for indoor marijuana cultivation. Matt and Jessie Francis of Stockton Springs, as Reservoir Ventures LLC, have proposed to convert it to six two-bedroom and a pair of one-bedroom apartments.

Several neighbors urged the council not to grant the zoning change on grounds that renters would be less likely to care for the property than members of a condominium association, as would be permitted under the current zoning.

Some, including Bob Adler, who lives two doors away from the former school, argued that the process should be delayed because neighbors were given only a month's notice during the holiday season.

"I think that's a rush," Adler said, noting that documents were not easily accessible because they could be viewed only in person at City Hall. "I'm urging you to slow this down a little bit."

Councilors Eric Sanders and Mary Mortier disclosed that they had communicated with the owners of the James P. White house, located across the street from Peirce School, who strongly oppose the change. Both councilors ultimately supported the Peirce School proposal, and other city officials commended the Francises for a plan that would add to available housing stock.

"Personally, I'm glad we're not growing dope there anymore," Sanders said.

The former Peirce School at 24 Church St. is being eyed for conversion to market-rate apartments. (Photo by: Ethan Andrews)
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.