Scarborough council kills neighborhood zoning change

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SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council rejected a zoning change Wednesday that would have allowed a two-story office building on Elmwood Avenue.

The council voted unanimously against the zoning change sought by Maine Eye Center, siding with more than 15 resident who spoke against the change.

The six-acre property, owned by the Maine Department of Transportation, was put up for sale recently and is in a residential zone. However, when the property was listed by a commercial real estate broker, Scarborough Economic Development Corp. began lobbying the town to change the zoning from residential to commercial biomedical.

“If it were rezoned, Maine Eye is exactly the kind of use I would want for this property,” SEDCO Executive Director Harvey Rosenfeld said. 

Instead, the council opted to send a potential zoning change to the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee to evaluate the zoning options for the property.

“People in Green Acres had reasonable belief it would remain open space,” Councilor Richard Sullivan said. “The state took that property with eminent domain – I had a lot of heartburn on that. Taking it by eminent domain and then selling it for a profit – if they didn’t need it, they shouldn’t have taken it.”

Councilor Jessica Holbrook agreed that the state taking the property from a private citizen back when the Scarborough Connector was built meant it should not now be able to turn around and sell it.

“Call your congressmen, your representatives,” Holbrook said. “Scream as loud as you can. The state should never profit from property taken by eminent domain.”

Councilors were careful to explain that this was not a judgment against Maine Eye Center, and encouraged the Portland business to consider other available and appropriately zoned properties in Scarborough.

“I don’t think (this) fits with the neighborhood,” Councilor Karen D’Andrea said. “But I hope Maine Eye comes to Scarborough. I hope they become the first new tenant at Haigis Parkway.”

In other business, the council approved an agreement between the town and the residents of  Cranberry Pines, where the town will loan the road association funds to repair the road enough that it will be adopted as a town road.

Councilors also heard an update to the Running Hill Road study.

Cranberry Pines

After a meeting Tuesday evening, where residents of West Beech Ridge Road discussed concerns about future connectivity of Beech Ridge and Cranberry Pines roads, the council voted 6-1 Wednesday, with Councilor Jessica Holbrook opposed, to repair the road enough to adopt it as a public way.

The repairs will initially be paid for by the town, but the road association will pay the town back for all the repairs.

The town will also pay off a Small Business Association loan the association took out in the mid-1990s to repair damage to the road and the association will pay the town back over 15 years.

As long as it is approved in the 2012 budget, the town will spend $243,400 and, in doing so, gain easement access to town owned property near the road.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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