YARMOUTH — Plans for a new business complex along U.S. Route 1 near the Hannaford supermarket have been scaled back and may soon be OK’d, but some neighbors remain wary about the possibility of future development.
Town staff are expected to decide Friday whether to approve a proposal submitted last month by Hannaford Bros. Co. to construct a 15,000-square-foot commercial building near the entrance to the Shoppers Village supermarket plaza, Town Planner Vanessa Farr said on Monday.
The building, which would stand on the site of the shuttered Church of the Nazarene and its adjacent parking lot, represents a fraction of a larger development proposed by Hannaford in August 2014.
That plan would have included six commercial buildings, totaling more than 31,000 square feet in area, and covering most of a triangular parcel for which Hannaford holds purchase rights. The smallest of the buildings would have measured 2,500 square feet; the largest, 10,000 square feet.
The newly proposed building, larger than its predecessors, would be roughly the size of the Bow Street Market in Freeport and would probably be rented out. As in the previous plan, a driveway would run from Route 1 to parking behind the building.
Some neighbors objected to the original proposal, one of the first since the town in 2013 adopted zoning changes along Route 1.
The Character-Based Development Code, according to a town document, “seeks to transform what is now a high-speed highway lined with auto-oriented development into a slow-flow street that is safe for pedestrians, cyclists and people of all ages and abilities.”
By specifying new standards for building form, placement, architecture, parking locations, landscaping and other design elements, the code gives the town more control over development along Route 1.
Under the code, buildings are envisioned being more pedestrian-accessible, more “tightly packed” and closer to Route 1, Farr said. No longer will commercial developments be dominated by vast, desert-like parking areas.
The code also streamlines the town’s plan review process. For example, a “major” building and lot project such as the new building no longer requires approval of the publicly elected Planning Board, Farr said. Instead, it need only pass examination by the Consolidated Review Committee, which consists of Farr and a few other town staff.
The original design failed that examination, she said, explaining that one of the proposed buildings would have faced directly into a parking area, in violation of the character-based zoning.
Neighbors also expressed concern that the original design was not in keeping with Yarmouth’s character. Some claimed the development was too large and would increase noise in an area already subject to disruption by the sounds of the supermarket’s delivery trucks and ventilation systems.
That should not be a problem under the new plan, according to Farr.
“The new plan, in my opinion, will not increase the noise level,” she said, noting that unlike the originally proposed complex, the building would be tucked far from the parcel’s border with abutting residential properties.
Still, Farr admitted that construction itself would create noise and that neighbors “have already shouldered the burden” of such disruption, especially as Hannaford expanded its store during 2014.
Lauren McMillan, who moved with her family to an abutting property on Rogers Road a year ago, said they soon noticed more noise as the supermarket was renovated.
“Our major concern now is that even more development would increase noise and affect the quality of life here,” she said. “Sleep is precious.”
She warned that the result might hurt neighbors’ property values.
Also looming are questions about the businesses that might rent space in the new building, and what will become of remaining, undeveloped portions of the parcel.
“I hope Hannaford is really thoughtful about keeping community members involved in the process,” McMillan said. “It would be helpful to understand what kind of retail is going in.”
Lisa Trueworthy, a Freeport resident shopping at Hannaford last week, said she worries new businesses may “junk up” the area.
“I’d hate for an ugly new building to come in with the wrong type of business and turn Route 1 into even more of a strip mall than it already is,” she said.
Hannaford spokesman Eric Blom on Tuesday said it’s too early to predict how many or what kind of tenants might occupy the building, only saying they would be “high-quality retail.” For now, the company also has no plans for developing the rest of the parcel, according to Blom.
An outdoor seating area, included in both the original and the revised plans, is not intended to accommodate any particular type of tenant, he added. “We really have no one in mind.”
If the town approves Hannaford’s plan and grants the necessary project permits, construction could begin as early as spring, Blom said.
Farr said she hopes that one of the first steps, razing the former church, could begin “while windows are still closed.”
Meanwhile, she said she’s working with Hannaford’s designers and engineers at South Portland-based Fay, Spofford & Thorndike to “adjust” the plan’s architecture. If the plan is then approved by the review committee, Hannaford would be free to apply for demolition and building permits.
No public meeting or hearing on the plan is required and none is scheduled, Farr said.
But the committee’s ruling is subject to appeal, she pointed out, which could place the ultimate decision on the new building in the hands of the Planning Board.
Under the Character-Based Code, a proposal for any future buildings on the parcel might be reviewed by the board if deemed a “development” plan; a plan similar to the current building and lot proposal might again simply be reviewed by the committee.
Another shopper at Hannaford last week, former Yarmouth resident Bradley Smith, said he was unaware of the new code, or the new plans for development under it.
“But if (Hannaford) is going to build out, if that has to happen, I only hope they can do it respectfully, and don’t forget the people here who are giving them business in the first place,” he said.
Hannaford Bros. Co. hopes to construct a 15,000-square-foot commercial building near its supermarket on U.S. Route 1 in Yarmouth. The plan, scaled down from a larger design rejected last year, may be approved by the town this week.