Scarborough council likes proposal for 72 apartments

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SCARBOROUGH — A 72-unit apartment complex with six buildings at the end of Honan Road was unanimously approved by the Town Council in a first reading Wednesday.

The market-rate project by Risbara Properties would include one- and two-bedroom rentals, priced at $1,350 and $1,450 per month, including most utilities, Rocky Risbara told councilors at the Oct. 19 meeting. 

The council will again vet the subdivision, planned near the intersection with Mussey Road, after the Planning Board makes its recommendation sometime in the next few months. 

A zone change would be needed for the 11-acre swath of land, however, to accommodate a residential development of this size. In addition, the subdivision would include substantial pavement and other impervious surfaces, would be built on about 4 acres of wetlands, and also abut additional wetlands and an impaired stream.  

Councilor Chris Caiazzo said he supports the project; it’s the location that concerns him.

“I don’t like the location. It’s too close to the wetlands,” as well as Nonesuch River Brewing, he said. “We’re trying to shoehorn a lot of development into a heavily mitigated area.”

Risbara said there is great demand for rental apartments, and estimated the project would create $7 million-$8 million of taxable value.

Councilors agreed that more housing, particularly rental housing, is needed in Scarborough. 

The proposal “meets a need,” Chairman Bill Donovan said. “I think this is something the Comprehensive Plan has identified and we, as a council, have supported – to get more housing that can meet the needs of people who like to both live and work in Scarborough.”

The style of building would resemble the Blue Spruce Farm subdivision on Spring Street in Westbrook, Risbara said. Each building would have three floors and include 12 units.

Several councilors asked the developer to look into affordable housing options, too.

“Market rate is nice, (but) affordable housing is better,” Caiazzo said. 

Councilor Katherine St. Clair said the council should look at more affordable housing as an end goal, but considering how difficult it can be for developers to build affordable housing, the town should take what it can get and continue to encourage more housing options. 

“If this (project) passes, we’re finally getting another larger project that is at least bringing us down to market value,” she said. As for the pursuit of affordable, “we keep attacking it.” 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.