Scarborough Downs rezoning slated for council vote

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SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors will vote July 17 on ordinance and zoning changes for land around Scarborough Downs.

The prospect of the changes leading to a renewed effort to allow casino gambling drew brief, but determined, opposition in a public hearing before councilors scheduled the second reading and vote.

Former Councilor Suzanne Foley-Ferguson and Alberta Follansbee followed Town Planner Dan Bacon to the podium to discuss the creation of the Crossed Planned Development District on about 450 acres surrounding the 63-year-old harness racing track.

Bacon noted casino gambling is not allowed in the proposed mixed-use development zone, which would allow single- and multi-family residences, hotels, restaurants, commercial offices and schools.

“But it is structured to accommodate the use, if it is approved by the voters of Scarborough,” Bacon said.

Foley-Ferguson said a group called Don’t Gamble With Scarborough is forming to fight any efforts at a third referendum to permit gambling beyond its current form at the racetrack.

“Do not fund education with gambling revenue,” Foley-Ferguson said. “It is not who we are.”

Follansbee, the only other member of the public to speak, agreed with Foley-Ferguson.

“We have voted that down twice already,” she said. “I’m sure we don’t want to have adult entertainment at the center of our town.”

In an hour-long meeting centered mostly around zoning questions, councilors also forwarded revisions to the town sign ordinance to the Planning Board for an advisory opinion.

Bacon said revisions to Section XII will update and reorganize the ordinance. But Councilor Jessica Holbrook said more amendments will be needed to cover questions about signs in the Crossroads district.

The ordinance revisions will be subject to a public hearing and second council vote before taking effect.

In other business:

• Holbrook’s motion to table a zoning change for the district encompassing the Eastern Village subdivision on Ballantyne Drive until September passed unanimously.

Holbrook asked for the postponement to allow the Scarborough Housing Alliance to review possible changes in housing density requirements in the neighborhood developed by Kerry Anderson.

• On first reading, councilors approved changes to the Scarborough Personnel Ordinance while eliminating a revision in the appeal process for municipal employees suspended without pay or dismissed.

The change would have required the Town Manager to hear most appeals instead of the municipal Personnel Appeals Board.

Town Human Resources Director Jaclyn Mandrake said changes would increase efficiency, but appeals board member Penny Whitney-Asdourian objected because the revisions would affect about 320 municipal employees who now have the right to appeal to the board.

“I was a little taken aback when this was proposed,” Council Chairman Ron Ahlquist said.

Councilor Ed Blaise had served on the appeals board and said no staff should lose the right to a hearing.

“It means a lot to an employee to have an independent group look at the situation,” he said.

• Town Manager Tom Hall said work to reconstruct the intersections at Dunstan Corner is nearing an end, but not without some difficulties.

On Monday, a new intersection linking Payne Road to U.S. Route 1 opened north of the old intersection. The new intersection allows construction of a longer left turn lane to Pine Point Road for southbound U.S. Route 1 traffic.

Traffic congestion continues at the construction site, and Hall said R.J. Grondin, the Gorham-based contractor for the $2.8 million job, was fined $5,000 by the Maine Department of Transportation for not following the project traffic control plan.

In a letter to Grondin officials, DOT inspector Shane Amoroso said it took him 26 minutes on Wednesday to travel through construction on northbound U.S. Route 1. When he turned at the new Payne Road intersection, he found traffic backed up to Milliken Road.

“The delays experienced today and one day last week are above and beyond what has been acceptable to this point,” Amoroso said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.