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February 16, 2012 | last updated February 17, 2012 11:05 am

Portland planners deadlock over new Husson campus

Portland planning officials Tuesday deadlocked over whether to approve a zoning amendment to allow Husson University to turn the Elks building on Congress Street into a satellite campus.

Husson in December said it wants to turn the 6.9-acre parcel at 1945 Congress St., currently the site of the Portland Lodge No. 188 of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, into a campus for up to 500 students. Planning board members voted 3-3 on whether to support a zoning change to allow educational uses in the residential zone, according to the Portland Press Herald. The three opposing members thought the city should instead approve a contract zoning agreement in order to have more control over the development. But such an agreement could take two months to complete, and the Elks have a tight deadline to acquire a new property, according to the paper. The zoning change goes to the city council with no recommendation from the planning board for a March 5 vote.

Husson in December said it had secured a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy the property for more than $2 million. But Husson officials this week said an unnamed developer has agreed to buy the property, and Husson would then lease it.

The school currently leases a location at 220 Maine Mall Road in South Portland. It has offered undergraduate and graduate classes in the Greater Portland area for 15 years.

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