SCARBOROUGH — A proposal that would allow more affordable and diverse housing in the Oak Hill and Dunstan Landing neighborhoods received preliminary Town Council approval Wednesday.
The proposed zoning changes for the Town and Village Centers District would allow more multi-family housing, Town Planner Dan Bacon told councilors at the Dec. 2 meeting.
“The town has been consistent for the last five to 10 years in looking at zoning and trying to provide a wider range of housing choices,” including not only housing types, but housing at varying price points, Bacon said.
Examples of new housing choices, Bacon said, include the Eastern Village neighborhood off Inspiration Drive. He also cited the approval this summer of 50 Avesta Housing affordable housing units, most of which will be one-bedroom residences, at the historic Southgate House property, at 577 U.S. Route 1.
The latest changes proposed would not alter the allowed residential housing density, but rather change the sizes allowed and the way the units can be arranged.
As the socioeconomics and median age of Scarborough residents continues to shift, tailoring zoning to accommodate the changes becomes more necessary, Bacon said.
Multi-family housing is allowed now in the TVC District, but is limited to 12 units per building, which Bacon called a “challenge.”
According to an Oct. 17 memo from Bacon and members of the Long Range Planning Committee, the 12-unit requirement “may unnecessarily be prohibiting some one- and two-bedroom multi-family projects from occurring.”
The proposal would mean increasing the number of units allowed in residential and mixed-use buildings from 12 to 16 or 20 units, to allow more one- and two-bedroom options.
Residential buildings in the TVC District can be no greater than 10,000 square feet – roughly the size of the Scarborough Municipal Building – and are limited to three stories, according to the zoning ordinance. That space can hold 12 two- and three-bedroom units, or about 20 one- and two-bedroom units, according to Bacon.
“And in terms of trying to provide a wider range of housing choices and price points, enabling more 1 and 2 bedroom units in a multi-family setting can further these goals without changing the standards in the zoning that regulate scale, form and character,” according to the memo.
Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina on Wednesday said “there’s a real demand for one-bedroom apartments, particularly for older people who might be downsizing,” and from younger workers.
“We’ve taken on as a council to try and create as much affordable housing as we can,” Councilor Chris Caiazzo added.
This change in zoning would simply create “one more piece of diversity in the housing types in Scarborough,” Bacon said.
The proposal requires Planning Board approval and a second reading by the council before it receives final approval.
Avesta Housing’s plan to construct 50 affordable housing units at Dunstan Landing in Scarborough is one example of diverse housing options in the town.