Medical center proposal runs into opposition at Yarmouth Planning Board

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YARMOUTH — Mercy Hospital wants to build a more than 10,000-square-foot medical center on undeveloped land some call the town’s southern gateway.

But the project faces opposition from members of the community who are concerned the proposal ignores the town’s vision for Route 1 development.

According to developer Nathan Bateman of Bateman Partners, the proposed one-story facility would be built on 1.6 acres of a 5.5 acre parcel at 385 Route 1, between Route 1 and Portland Street and near the existing Mobil gas station and Mr. Bagel properties.

It would have footprint of 10,500 square feet would include a family practice and quick-care facility for non-life-threatening emergencies. The quick-care facility would be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week; the family practice would have hours Monday through Friday. There are no overnight accommodations proposed.

Bateman said the property owner, Robert S. O’Donnell Jr. didn’t initially want to sell the land, but finally agreed when he discovered it would be a medical facility.

“He believed Mercy Hospital would add to the area and add to the site,” Bateman said.

The building would be owned by 385 Route 1 LLC, a development vehicle that would provide a long-term lease for Mercy Hospital.

Joe Laverriere, a senior engineer with DeLuca-Hoffman Associates, said the site would have a single access from Route 1, and there would be two exit lanes from the property. There would be 57 parking spots available in the rear of the building, and a sidewalk would wrap around the building.

The project would be connected to the municipal water system off Route 1 and the sewer would be connected to the Portland Street main. There would be landscaping and buffering between the parking lot and the residential area behind the proposed facility.

Architect David Lloyd said the building would have a “contemporary, yet traditional” New England feel, and will include recommendations from Town Planner Vanessa Farr and her staff.

Residents and Planning Board members spoke about the project during a meeting May 26. The board requested more information from the developers and tabled action. 

Farr encouraged the developers to work to fit the proposed building into the town’s vision for the parcel. She told the developers to re-evaluate design guidelines along Route 1, and the ability to connect with other streets in the future, and allow for public accessibility.

Marjorie Carter, of 131 Portland St., said as an abutter to the proposed building, she is concerned about light and noise pollution and suggested a fence and heavy buffering be placed between the parking lot and the fields behind the building.

Ed Libby, a member of the Gateways Committee and owner of Real Maine Real Estate at 374 Route 1, said he is concerned about the entrance location and traffic. He said the Gateways Committee is working on the third phase of the Route 1 corridor study, addressing the southern portion of Route 1 around the Portland Street intersection. He suggested a traffic peer review be completed before any decisions are made.

Both Mary Williamson and Esther Pappas, co-chairwomen of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, spoke against the proposal.

Williamson said while the developer made positive changes to the building based on planning staff feedback, they are still not following the vision of the Comprehensive Plan.

Pappas said the parcel of land and area of Route 1 has been a primary concern for the committee as a gateway location.

“We absolutely do not want this building,” she said. Instead, she said a two-story, mixed-use development would be preferred in an effort to create a Main Street feel along Route 1.

“I’m hoping you can help us get there,” she said. If the community doesn’t participate in the creation of that parcel, she said, “we will have missed this opportunity to require the first opportunity to be the right opportunity.”

The developer said the owner is unwilling to sell any more land in the parcel. But resident Terry DeWan, a landscape architect and author of the town’s design guidelines, said the town is owed a sense of what is to be developed on the land in the future.

He said if the land’s potential is discussed, creative design ideas such as on-street parking and connections between Route 1 and Portland Street could be explored.

Bateman said although nothing has been created, the proposal is designed to handle future development. He said the water and sewer is capable of handling additional development and while he has no control over the easements, the road is designed to handle more traffic in the future.

The next Planning Board meeting and public hearing the proposal will be on June 23, at 7 p.m. in the Log Cabin at 196 Main St.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 10 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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