State to wait for Waterford ruling before closing with Seaside developer

Waterford - The state is willing to wait for its $8 million for Seaside.

A spokesman for the state Department of Public Works said Thursday that the state will wait until the Waterford Planning and Zoning Commission rules on zoning amendments sought by Mark Steiner, the developer of the former Seaside Regional Center, before it closes on the property.

Steiner was scheduled Thursday to pay the state $8 million for the 32-acre former facility for mentally handicapped people that he plans to turn into luxury condominiums.

"We will seek to close on the property after it goes through planning and zoning at the local level," DPW spokesman Jeffery R. Beckham said. "Once Mr. Steiner has obtained approval, we would schedule a closing date."

The zoning commission has held two public hearings on proposed changes to the Seaside zone, which would remove the provision that Steiner build housing restricted to people aged 55 years and older, and insert language that would allow the demolition of one or more of the historic buildings on the site.

Steiner has said the project would not be feasible without the zone changes.

The agreement Steiner signed with the state in May is contingent upon obtaining local approval for the project.

Beckham said that if Steiner does not obtain the zone changes, he would be under no obligation to buy the property.

The public hearing is scheduled to continue on July 11, when the commission could vote on the changes.

The zone changes have sparked opposition from several residents in the neighborhood around Seaside who want the age restriction to remain and the Cass Gilbert-designed buildings to be preserved.

Also, some residents want Steiner to present more detailed plans for the property.

Other residents support the zone changes, saying it could bring construction jobs and more tax revenue to the town.

Beckham said Thursday the state is still awaiting Steiner's $250,000 deposit on the property, though the two parties are finalizing an escrow agreement.

"It needs the approval of the attorney general, which we expect any day now," Beckham said.

Beckham said the state has "firm representation" that Steiner will pay the deposit.

s.chupaska@theday.com

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