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Scarborough relaxes Haigis Parkway development rules, puts pesticide questions to rest

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Scarborough relaxes Haigis Parkway development rules, puts pesticide questions to rest

SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors on Wednesday enacted a slate of zoning amendments aimed at attracting businesses to Haigis Parkway, which the town still hopes will be a center of high-value development.

Councilors also put to rest questions about the process leading to the defeat of Councilor Richard Sullivan's effort to kill the town's organic pest management policy and allow use of synthetic pesticides.

The zoning changes relax rules around the Haigis Parkway intersections with U.S. Route 1 and Payne Road. They allow a wider array of development by taking those areas out of the more limited Haigis Parkway Zone and making them B3 business districts.

That opens the areas up for developments such as medium- and large-size retail operations. Amendments to B3 zoning standards allow for an even more uses, such as assisted living facilities, gas stations (only near Maine Turnpike Exit 42), boarding care facilities and nursing homes. 

Haigis Parkway zoning rules were also amended to allow medical and diagnostic facilities, health clubs, personal services, places of worship, education, commercial recreation and research, development and light industry. 

Town Manager Tom Hall, after the Town Council meeting, said the changes are a recognition of market demands. Because of the 2007-2009 recession and the ongoing sluggish recovery, Scarborough has seen less demand for Haigis Parkway real estate than it had hoped.

"These amendments modernize the zoning and create more flexibility," Town Planner Dan Bacon said. 

Pesky policy

The debate over the pesticides policy had continued after questions were raised by councilors about whether an April 18 vote on Sullivan's proposal, which failed to gain the four votes necessary for passage, was valid under Roberts' Rules of Order, the baseline procedures that guide council meetings. 

Robert Crawford, the town's attorney, recommended the town amend the April 18 meeting minutes to show that a true, valid vote took place. The amended minutes were accepted Wednesday 5-2, with Councilors Karen D'Andrea and Carol Rancourt opposed. 

In response to Rancourt and D'Andrea's concerns that the amended minutes still were not accurate, Council Vice Chairwoman Judith Roy said she was eager to end the discussion and move on.

"It's clear enough for me," Roy said. "I think we're making a mountain out of a molehill here. We've got it as straight as we can at this point."

Had a decision been made that the April 18 vote didn't pass parliamentary muster, Sullivan's proposal could have been brought before the council again.

The practical effect of the minutes vote is that the pesticides issue is, officially, decided. The organic pest management policy adopted in September 2011 is the town's policy and will continue to be, barring any future attempt to overturn it.

In other business, councilors on Wednesday enacted a policy to relieve active military personnel from paying vehicle excise tax until the end of their service.

They also voted to give about 2,900 square feet of property to the Maine Department of Transportation to facilitate the widening of the Pine Point Road-U.S. Route 1 intersection.

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