The planning board chair, Elizabeth Boepple, made it clear from the start of the meeting yesterday afternoon that the long-standing easement issues that had long caused bad blood between neighbors Ron Gan and the developer of 218 Washington Avenue was not part of its site plan review and should be resolved elsewhere – perhaps in court – a directive that the brash Gan and a rogue planning board member ignored throughout the workshop.
Katherine Detmer, of Archetype Architects, presented a preliminary overview to the planning board of the type of project it is proposing for the sloped land situated in a low foot traffic area near an entrance to 295 at 218 Washington Avenue. City staff objected to a lack of landscaping proposed by the developer who has also asked for a waiver on the number of trees required for the condominium.
Blunt planning board member David Eaton asked the rest of the board if it really wanted to review a project that may not be financially viable. No one took his bait. In an exchange with the developer Vinny Maietta, Eaton pushed him repeatedly on the subject of bank financing. Would any bank finance his project without this easement issue resolved Eaton wanted to know. Had Maietta discussed this matter with potential financers? Maietta said it was far too early in the process to be looking for financing and he did not consider this subject to be a legitimate one. Finally, the developer responded:: ‘We don’t have an issue with Gan. We’ve paid him a lot of money to support us. He has made up a fictious claim.”
During the public comment period, Ron Gan said that this was not the place to litigate the issue of the ‘negative easement’ that prohibits the building and improvements. “It can be dealt with now or when the matter is resolved.” The developer Maietta disagreed with that analysis by Gan. In support of Gan’s demand to resolve the matter was a letter from Hopkinson & Abbondanza, representing him and addressed to the city threatening legal action should the City approve a “project that may impinge upon my client’s property rights and interests.”
Karen Snyder, a Munjoy Hill resident waned to know why all the new construction utilizes flat roofs. Tuck O’Brien responded that the staff had been working with flat roofs because they are best able to screen mechanicals thereon. Several planning board members agreed with Snyder that they would like to see a change to the roof to break it up into smaller sections.
Following the workshop Gan had no comment about the proceeding. On the other hand, Maietta explained that the two differing parties had gone to arbitration months ago officiated by a Judge. “We don’t believe Ron Gan is complying with the results of the arbitration. “There’s no point in spending a nickel on Ran Gan because he’s not worth it.”
The controversial Gan was the developer for the pricey Federal Street condominiums. He unsuccessfully teamed up with Jed Rathband, real estate agent, to dry to develop property on Washington Avenue. The two could not get the financing needed and the development never happened. Gan also tried unsuccessfully to develop his property on Sumner Court, which resulted in the formation of the Friends of Sumner Court – a non-profit that resisted his development efforts. Gan once operated a food cart selling pulled pork in Monument Square and elsewhere in Portland.
Please contact Jean Fraser, city planner at city hall, 207 – 874-8728 to answer questions. Please see post herein dated April 28, 2017 for more background information.