Scarborough councilors ponder zoning questions
SCARBOROUGH — Plans to develop the area near Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for light industrial use stayed on track Wednesday night as councilors forwarded proposed zoning changes to the Planning Board.
Councilors also approved a licensing agreement with Nonesuch Oysters owner Abigail Carroll allowing her to nurture oyster larvae in containers placed off the Pine Point Pier.
They also and made a seventh amendment to the contract zone agreement governing the Gateway Shoppes and undeveloped commercial real estate on Payne Road.
Alterations to zoning in a triangular area bordered by Holmes Road, Two Rod Road and the Maine Turnpike would open the area to light industrial use and create a rural farming zone overlay along Two Rod Road, Town Planner Dan Bacon said.
Bacon said there is a dearth of light industrial zones in town, with three specifically zoned areas that lack space for business expansion. The plans to rezone the Holmes Road area require all truck traffic from light industries to use Holmes Road to get to the Maine Turnpike and other roads.
Beech Ridge Motor Speedway is the most notable existing feature in the current landscape, which includes the former town landfill. Property owners on Two Rod Road would be given an option to open their land to light industrial use in the proposed zoning changes, but only if truck traffic could be routed directly to Holmes Road.
The proposed changes were forwarded to the Planning Board for review that will include a public hearing. A council public hearing will also be held before councilors vote to enact any changes.
The Planning Board will also review the seventh amendment to a 2007 contract zone agreement between the town and New England Expedition, the company that developed the Gateway Shoppes and planned for commercial development on land across from that project on Payne Road.
Rick Shinay, the lawyer representing New England Expedition, said the company is seeking to amend a requirement that the company to show by March 1 that commercial development is "substantially complete," with at least 100,000 square feet of leasable space.
When the project was originally planned, developers expected Fairchild Semiconductor to move to Scarborough from South Portland, a deal that collapsed with the economy in 2008, Shinay said.
Since then, utilities, roadways and other infrastructure have been installed, but no businesses have show interest in moving to the land. Shinay said company officials are optimistic, especially because of zoning changes that have occurred since the agreement was made, but there is no chance of being "substantially complete" by the impending deadline.
Councilors unanimously agreed with Shinay and noted the estimated $6 million invested in the parcel by New England Expedition indicates the company's commitment to develop the property.
The contract changes will face public hearings by the Planning Board and Town Council before final approval, and Shinay noted the zoning changes in the area may mean the entire agreement can be scrapped. Because a zoning exception in 2007 to allow the expanded space for outdoor retailer Cabela's is no longer required, Shinay said he is reviewing the rest of the contract to see if it is still applicable.
Councilor Judith Roy and Chairman Ron Ahlquist agreed changes might render the contract moot, but said the entire process of developing the area might give future councils pause before creating contract zones for development.
Despite initial objections from Councilor Ed Blaise that Nonesuch River Oyster owner Abigail Carroll was not paying a high enough fee to use a 20-foot float for her upweller off the Pine Point Pier, councilors unanimously approved the agreement she reached with Town Manager Tom Hall for at least one year.
Hall said the agreement is technically not a lease because the town can withdraw the license at any time, and Carroll will pay $420 to cover electricity costs needed to run the upweller, which raises oyster larvae known as "spat."
The spat will then be shifted to the water near Seavey's Landing where Carroll raises oysters to maturity. Roy noted the fee for the upweller is proportionally costlier than what the town charges entities using town parking spaces near Town Hall and on Higgins Beach, while Councilors Richard Sullivan Jr. and James Benedict said assessing the fee is guesswork at first that can be reviewed by the council next year.
Marine Resource Officer Dave Corbeau emphatically supported the agreement and noted a clause requiring one container be set aside to raise seed clams for the Shellfish Committee will benefit the town.
While not voting on a plan to rezone a parcel of land near Dunstan Corner to a Town Village designation allowing mixed use, councilors did hear objections verbally and in a letter from neighbors worried about plans to build several apartments on the land.
The public hearing focused on a request by Risbara Properties and St. Clair Associates to shift 3.24 acres from residential designations to mixed use in order to build three apartment buildings with a total of 31 units and three single-family homes.
The land is just east of U.S. Route 1, south of Pine Point Road and bordered by Orchard Street.
Nancy St. Clair of St. Clair Associates said the three apartment buildings on Griffin Road would be accessed only from Route 1 and the property edges would be buffered to shield them from view from Orchard Street residents.
Rocky Risbara told the council plans call for 18 one-bedroom units and 13 two-bedroom units rented at market rates ranging from $800 a month to $1,200 a month. One unit would be priced at subsidized rates for lower income residents.
Development plans require Planning Board approval if the zoning change is approved by the council, but Orchard Street residents Nate and Suraiya Gobeil said neighbors worry about increased traffic, added lighting and the prospect of increased crime that might come from developing the land.