LL Bean scrapes major development in Freeport

LL Bean announced on Sunday that it would withdraw its support for a developer’s plan to build hundreds of new homes on a property owned by an outdoor gear retailer in Freeport.

The controversial project was far into the future – developers said the homes would be built over a period of up to 20 years – but residents opposed the idea, worried that it would change the city irreversibly.

LL Bean CEO Stephen Smith said in a letter to the community, “a joint project with the city of Freeport and a local developer’s plan involving our original good intentions,”. “As such, we think the best decision to hold on to this project is until Freeport has a clear and comprehensive plan agreed to by the city and local residents about the best use of land.”

A proposal submitted by Portland-based KV Enterprises to the Freeport Planning Board included 329 single-family homes, 60 apartment units, 140 homes in 70 duplex buildings and another eight commercial lots in a 250-acre property off the Desert and Old County Roads.

At a planning board meeting this month, residents expressed concern that adding so many people to the city – possibly more than 2,000 – would overwhelm municipal services and change the character of a community that already had its rural spirit Is struggling to keep up.

A group of Freeport residents stand outside the town hall on 4 November to protest against plans for a 500-unit housing development in the largely rural part of the city. Hannah LaClair / The Times Record

Still, LL Bean says it wants to sell the land at some point in the future. In his letter, Smith said that the company would work with the city on public forums to determine how to divide the property. LL Bean currently holds enough land in Freeport to make up about 8 percent of the tax base, he said.

“As we seek to focus more on our core business – designing, making and selling quality products that help people get out and are a major employer in our state – we still contribute in the long term We would like to sell some of this property. The feasibility of Freeport, “Smith said.

This story will be updated.

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