40-unit apartment complex gets preliminary OK in Scarborough's Dunstan neighborhood

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SCARBOROUGH — The Planning Board gave preliminary approval last week to the first phase of a 40-unit apartment complex expansion in the Dunstan neighborhood. 

But the approval is conditional on the developer continuing to work out a plan for access to his property that doesn’t involve a new driveway on Martin Avenue or Broadturn Road, where neighbors say additional traffic would be intolerable.

The approved phase will include construction of an eight-unit apartment building at the end of North Street, where two similar buildings already exist. The construction is part of a larger expansion of Burnham Village that would ultimately include four more buildings, each with eight one-bedroom apartments, on land behind the North Street cul-de-sac.

The board’s March 12 decision gives the developer, Burnham Village LLC, the go-ahead to begin the site plan process.

But questions remain about access. Planning Board members and Planning Department staff don’t want the development to build its driveway on Martin Avenue, to which the property has direct access.

Instead, they want Burnham Village to work out an agreement with the nearby Rock’n Roll Diner to use the restaurant’s driveway for access to its apartments.

The developer and the restaurant “have had conversations, and we’re certainly hoping we can come to an agreement,” said Shawn Frank of Sebago Technics, Burnham Village’s engineer. “As usual, it comes down to what one side might think it’s worth, versus the other side.”

A representative of the Rock’n Roll Diner could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. 

As they did during the development’s sketch plan review in February, several residents spoke against the project last week, saying the additional traffic and noise would disrupt their neighborhood. 

“The existing building is incredibly close already,” said Harley Putnam, a Broadturn Road resident. “I hear screaming children and I see the emergency lights on all night and they’re very bright. I also think the wetlands are kind of an issue. There are tons of birds. Ecosystems could be disturbed.”

Board member Ronald Mazer said he was concerned about the potential for flooding on the patch of land behind the proposed development. Residents say that soggy weather already leaves standing water on that property, and that additional construction would only make it worse.

“I’d like to hear how that’s going to be addressed,” Mazer said. “I see it all over my notes and I hear it from the public too. For me, that is a red flag.”

Storm water engineering hasn’t been done yet, Frank said, but the developer plans to do “dry” storm water retention, as opposed to a retention pond, in order to mitigate the risk of flooding.

Frank said lighting, curbing, drainage and landscape details would be fine-tuned in the site plan, which will require Planning Board approval.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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