Buyers seek contract zone to develop North Yarmouth Academy properties

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YARMOUTH — Private investors have plans to purchase two Main Street properties owned by North Yarmouth Academy for development into a 12-unit condominium complex.

A two-story wing across the rear of what would be called the Shepley and Weld Village Townhomes would add space for additional units. The town’s current zoning allows for up to four dwellings in each building, but does not permit the addition.

Matt Wogan of Waypoint Partners LLC went before the Planning Board Jan. 24 to discuss preliminary plans and propose a contract zone to allow the project to go forward.

The project was designed to comply with the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee’s proposed CD4 Village Center Character District. But with delays in action on the Character-Based Development Code and uncertainty in the proposed zoning, Waypoint Partners opted to move forward by pursuing a contract zone.

CPIC and Planning Board member Judy Colby-George said if and when the CBDC is approved, this would be the ideal project for the zone.

Board Chairman Kevin O’Rourke stressed that the meeting was meant only to discuss conceptual plans and advise Waypoint Partners how to move forward, knowing they’ll have a chance to review plans in much greater detail before referring the application to the Town Council for a final vote on the contract zone.

The Weld House, at 149 Main St., was originally used by NYA’s headmaster and most recently housed admissions and communications before the offices were moved to Dole House in June. It has a rear, one-story segment and attached garage, which would be removed and replaced by the new, two-story addition.

The Shepley House, at 153 Main St., was originally a dormitory and has since been used for several purposes. Most recently it provided classroom and residential space.

Head of School Ben Jackson said as NYA added more than 30,000 square feet of instructional space over the last decade, the Shepley House was no longer needed and has not been used for several years.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Jackson said, 18 campus buildings were assessed as part of the school’s strategic plan and it was decided that 149, 153, and 162 Main St. would not be part of a campus update.

“We’ve been engaged and collaborating with NYA since the fall of 2017 and have mutually agreed to the concept plans (for 149 and 153 Main St.),” Wogan said.

Both buildings are under contract, he said.

Jackson pledged his support to the sale, saying the development is “aesthetically consistent with the charm and the architecture of the neighborhood.”

According to Jackson, the Payne Elwell House at 162 Main St. – which houses office space, including the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce – is also under contract to be sold, but there is “no update on plans or a change of current use.”

Adjoining the Weld and Shepley homes with the addition, connected by an enclosed porch and passageway, would create a courtyard arrangement at the center for tenant use. Eight of the 12 proposed units would be two-bedroom dwellings, with the remaining four likely made into three-bedroom dwellings. All would have private, covered entries.

Joseph Waltman, of Waltman Architectural Design, said the proposed plans respect the exterior and interior structures of the historic homes.

Three parking areas are proposed to the side and rear of the development, with a total of 25 spaces.

Wogan said he anticipates the target market of the units being “quite diverse,” ranging anywhere from young professionals to “empty-nesters looking to downsize … (to) some elderly folks.”

He added that everything tenants could need would be within a 3-mile radius of the development, including banks, a grocery store, post office, doctor’s office and town parks.

Members of the Planning Board encouraged Waypoint Partners to continue moving forward with the project.

With the board’s blessing, Waypoint Partners will collect more detailed data, including a traffic study of the area, before submitting a final application for contract zone, potentially on Feb. 14.

After a public hearing and further review of either preliminary or conceptual plans, the Planning Board will make a recommendation to the Town Council.

“(This project) seems like a natural fit to a long-standing community that has always had residential (space) down Main Street,” Wogan said. “We think Yarmouth is one of the best towns for it in the greater Portland Area.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Waypoint Partners LLC has proposed the purchase and redevelopment of North Yarmouth Academy’s Weld and Shepley homes at 149 and 153 Main St. in Yarmouth. The two buildings would be joined across the rear by a four-unit addition, for a total of 12 townhouse dwellings.

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