Council OKs land donation for school program

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The Westbrook City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to donating city-owned lots for students at the vocational school to build houses for the next eight years.

The Westbrook-Gorham Rotary Club, which handles the real estate transactions for the Westbrook Vocational Center’s building trades program, asked the city to donate four lots at the end of Dale Avenue for the program, in order to offset the cost of having to extend the road and utilities.

Councilors voted 4-1, with John O’Hara opposed, to give preliminary approval to donating the lots.

Part of the agreement that the city will draft before the council’s final vote is that if the Rotary Club sees any profit from the sale of the homes, it will return that money to the city.

O’Hara tried to amend the order to donate just three of the lots, but the other councilors present didn’t support the amendment, even though representatives from the Rotary Club said the project would still be viable.

Councilor Mike Foley said he considered the fourth lot important because the Rotary Club agreed to make improvements to a trail that runs through it.

“I really think that’s a key thing,” he said.

O’Hara said he didn’t want to see a house built on that lot, but would rather just keep it a piece of green space – an amenity, he said, that’s quickly dwindling in the city.

The final approval of the lot donation was expected to be on the agenda for the special City Council meeting scheduled for Monday, according to City Clerk Lynda Adams, but the agenda for the meeting had not been set by the American Journal’s publication deadline.

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