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Landscape of South Portland's Willard Square faces changes

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Landscape of South Portland's Willard Square faces changes

Neighbors concerned about planned Pillsbury Street development

SOUTH PORTLAND — Two former employees of Rosemont Market & Bakery in Yarmouth want to build a new store in Willard Square.

Ian Hayward and Glenn Perry were scheduled to meet with the Willard Square Neighborhood Association on Thursday night. 

Planning and Development Director Tex Haeuser said he suggested the pair meet with the residents, who are concerned about the project's impact on traffic and quality of life.

City Councilor Tom Blake at Wednesday's council meeting encouraged residents to attend the 7 p.m. neighborhood meeting at the Betsy Ross House, saying the project "may change the landscape in Willard Square."

Hayward said they plan to build a two-story, 2,400 square-foot grocery store with a kitchen next to a three-unit apartment building at 7 Pillsbury St. that Perry purchased in November.

According to city records, the apartment building sits on quarter of an acre of land.

Hayward said the plans call for a public patio that will be open to everyone – including customers of Scratch Baking Co., Scoops ice cream and Bathras Market, which will open in May.

Hayward and Perry plan to sell prepared foods, sandwiches and groceries. Hayward said they will compliment – not compete – with the existing businesses in the square.

But Hayward and Haeuser said neighbors are uneasy about the plan. Residents are concerned about traffic, parking and the design of the building, which will be prefabricated.

"We do share those concerns," Haeuser said, "but we're not necessarily feeling as though it's a complete crisis."

Both of them said the proposed development conforms to the zoning laws of the Village Commercial Willard District, which does not require side-yard setbacks. A 12-vehicle parking lot is also planned on the site. 

Hayward said he was looking forward to the neighborhood meeting, so he could present the plans and counter rumors about the project.

"We really want to be responsible stewards of the square and the neighborhood," he said.

Hayward said he plans on submitting his proposal to city planners by May 3.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings.