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- The Forecaster
SOUTH PORTLAND — The Planning Board advanced two housing projects Wednesday amid discussions about the need for affordable housing in the city.
The first project, at 450 Clark’s Pond Parkway and owned by Vincent Maietta, is a 256-unit apartment complex expected to have up to 500 residents.
The board also unanimously approved a preliminary subdivision review for an affordable housing project at 611 Main St. in Thornton Heights, the site of the former St. John the Evangelist Church.
Maietta’s proposal includes four, six-story apartment buildings with 212 two-bedroom units and 44 one-bedroom units. The buildings are proposed to be 60 feet tall, which is below the standard of 86 feet. Two access drives would be constructed from Clark’s Pond Parkway to parking areas containing 391 spaces.
The project, which is expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million, will be built in phases, according to Maietta.
The master plan for the project was approved by the board in May; a final subdivision review is still required. The interim step, preliminary subdivision review, was unanimously approved by the board Wednesday.
Also included in the plans is a fenced-in dog park for tenants of the community, which Maietta said he wants to be pet-friendly.
A traffic study conducted by Sebago Technics showed the complex will produce 140 trips in the morning and 171 trips in the evening at peak hours.
Maietta has also agreed to connect the sidewalk from the parkway to John Roberts Road.
Maietta said he expects monthly rents will range from $1,100-$1,500, and noted the project is privately funded and not subsidized.
He said at the affordable housing committee meetings he attended, it was determined that 30 percent of a person’s income is considered to be an affordable rent. He said a $1,100 rent, based on the median income in the city, is affordable.
Planning Board member Mary DeRose said she hopes the addition of the project will help to stabilize rents in the city.
Some neighbors of the 611 Main St. project have opposed the scale of the project..
But Planning Board Chairman Kevin Carr said the board’s job is to ensure applicants are meeting city standards, not to make everybody happy.
Residents at Wednesday’s meeting had continued questions about traffic and light pollution from the project, which is bounded by Main Street, Aspen Avenue and Thirlmere Avenue. The nearly 2-acre site includes a parish house and a school building, which have been vacant for four years.
City councilors last month approved a zoning change for the proposed $9 million affordable housing project. The rear acre of the property had to be rezoned because it was in a Residential A zone, while the rest of the parcel was in the Main Street Community Commercial zone.
The zoning change was recommended by the Planning Board in March.
A 42-unit building and three single-family homes are part of the proposal. Thirty three of the apartments will be listed at specifically defined affordable rates for people earning 60 percent of the median income in the city. The remaining units will be rented based on market demand. Parking includes space for 72 cars, although the city only requires 45.
Thirlmere Avenue resident Joyce Mendoza said 225 residents signed a petition saying they did not support the project. She said the parking is not adequate, and residents are concerned about headlights flashing into neighborhood homes as people enter and exit the complex.
The parking lot lighting will consist of 12-foot poles with fixtures that will not shine off the property, but that issue will be reviewed further during final site plan approval.
The city Housing Authority is under contract to purchase the property from Cafua Management for $1.2 million. Brooks More, SPHA director of development, said the agency will apply for a federal low-income housing tax credit to help fund the project.
More said four applications are usually selected each year, based on a point system for specific criteria, including the cost to build each unit. Notification of whether funding will be awarded is expected in December.
Cafua is the Methuen, Massachusetts-based company that bought the property in 2013, with the aim of building a drive-thru Dunkin’ Donuts. That proposal was abandoned after it provoked vigorous opposition from neighbors opposed to the scale of the project.
If the SPHA plan moves forward, construction could begin as early as fall 2019, with completion expected a year later.