Potential Yarmouth developments draw mixed reviews

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YARMOUTH — New development proposals presented at recent town meetings are getting negative reactions from residents.

The Planning Board on Feb. 25 heard proposals to create housing on Sligo Road and between Russell’s Hill Road and Highlands Farm Road. On March 5, the Town Council discussed a preliminary plan to create a wedding hall on North Road.

Most residents at the meetings seemed to oppose the projects.

At the council meeting, public comment on the proposed wedding hall lasted over an hour, although Town Manager Nat Tupper pointed out than an application for the project has not even been submitted.

Tanner Maguire wants to build an event hall at 634 North Road, on land owned by Maguire’s parents, Carla and Robert Maguire. The hall would be called The Barn at North and Ledge. 

The property now contains one large house, a smaller house and a barn. The plan proposes that the larger house be moved to the back of the lot and maintained as a residence.

North Road resident Sheryl Roberts, who lives across the street from the proposed project, warned councilors about potential safety and noise problems related to traffic and rowdy guests. She also expressed concerns about excessive lighting and whether the hall would result in decreased property values.

“It would take away our right to peaceful enjoyment of our homes,” Roberts said.

While other residents said similar things, Carla Maguire said she was disappointed in that reaction since neighbors haven’t been bothered by her property, which already hosts two businesses, in the past.

“Many of you criticizing my vision are the same ones who have skated, skied, sledded, hunted or walked your dogs on my property,” Carla Maguire said. 

In order for the Maguires to build an event hall on the property, the town would need to redefine permitted uses in rural residential zones. Under the current zoning, businesses such as convention centers aren’t allowed in RR zones. If the town decides to move forward with the project, the zoning ordinance would need to be rewritten.

While some residents were concerned about this, others were open to the idea.

“I want to know what we can do in rural residential (zones) and I’m willing to work with the town to try to make it happen,” resident Tom Estabrook said. “I just want to make sure as a council, keep the door open and keeping saying ‘how can we make it happen,’ not ‘how can we not make it happen.'”

Councilors remained neutral about both the wedding hall and redefining the RR zone, and said they’d like to see the ideas go through an official vetting process.

Meanwhile, a conceptual sketch plan calls for building 26 to 30 single-family homes on just over 35 acres off Sligo Road. Each lot will be between a half-acre and three quarters acres, and the homes will be clustered between Newell Road, West Main Street and the railroad tracks that intersect Sligo Road.

Many residents in attendance of the Feb. 25 Planning Board meeting were opposed to the project because of a new road the applicant, Matthew Teare, wants to build. It would be an extension of Deacon Road, from Newell Road to Sligo Road.

“Newell Road is very congested,” resident Lindsay Crawford said. “We don’t have a lot of space, but the space we do have, I like to walk there with my son and my daughter and stroll around. It’s a nice quiet neighborhood.”

About a dozen people spoke against the project. Many said it would be unsafe to have more traffic come through an area where so many children play outside.

The board didn’t vote on the proposal as it is still in the conceptual stage. 

The Russell’s Hill Road proposal calls for five single-family residences on two lots, totalling 14 acres. The development is planned by Todd and Andrea Patstone of 45 Russell’s Hill Road. 

One lot is just over 2 acres of land and is accessible from Russell’s Hill Road. Two houses already exist on the parcel, although one is being demolished. A new home to be constructed on the lot was approved by the Planning Board last year, but has yet to be built. 

The other three houses will be built on the second lot and will be accessible from Highlands Farm Road.

Although no one from the public commented on the Patstone development, the board tabled it until next month for further review.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I’m a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I’m from a small town in NH no one’s ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.