Dunstan project could add 40 apartments in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — If all goes according to plan, a local developer could build about 40 one-bedroom apartments in the Dunstan neighborhood. 

The development would boost so-called “workforce housing,” which many residents and officials say the town desperately needs. 

“This kind of housing is a definite need for Scarborough, for our working families,” Planning Board member Jeffrey Thomas said Tuesday during a review of the proposed development by Burnham Village LLC.

The company already owns and operates 15 apartment units in two buildings at the end of North Street, a dead-end off Dunstan Avenue. The new, rough plan involves construction of five similar buildings, with eight apartments each, behind the existing two on undeveloped land toward Broadturn Road.

Shawn Frank, senior project manager with Sebago Technics, said the site already has ready water and sewer access, but that building placement would have to work around some wetlands. 

The only point of contention was which road would provide access to the new buildings. 

Some neighbors said the development would create an intolerable excess of traffic on narrow North Street toward busy Dunstan Avenue. 

“I remember when Dunstan Avenue stopped at North Street,” said Neal Paulson, of 4 Dunstan Ave. “Today it is a major problem. If you allow this project to go through, I hope you’ll widen North Street and Dunstan Avenue and plan to put in some sort of traffic signal.”

Frank said Harold Burnham, who owns the development company, has had very preliminary conversations with the owners of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Diner on Route 1 about striking a deal to allow tenants and other apartment traffic to enter and leave the development through the restaurant’s parking lot and driveway.

Members of the Planning Board, who didn’t vote on the development Tuesday, said they’d like to see that agreement reached.

“I’d strongly prefer that to having another intersection on Broadturn Road,” Cory Fellows said. 

Workforce housing is a long-term goal in Scarborough, where land prices are high and building costs are out of reach for many people who work in town. Apartments are one way to fill the gap.

According to town data, the median home price in Scarborough is about $290,000. That’s $75,000 more than the average first-home buyer in town can afford, according to the Scarborough Housing Alliance.

The site of the proposed development is zoned as a “Town and Village Center,” by Scarborough’s ordinance. The TVC Zone is meant for mixed-use development, and requires several stages of review.

Burnham Village LLC will have to return to the Planning Board at least twice, first for a master plan review, and again for a site plan review.

Frank said he hoped to have a master plan ready for the Planning Board soon.

In other business, the board received a sketch plan from The Ram Cos., which proposes to build a 16,000 square-foot office building at 200 Route 1. The building would be built behind the firm’s existing property, The Centervale building.

Citing traffic concerns, Planning Board members urged Ram to work with a neighboring property owner to secure access to Route 1 at the intersection with Hannaford Drive. 

Planning Department staff also stated their desire to strike a deal with Ram to allow the town to build a sidewalk on Route 1 in front of the company’s property.

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