Scarborough mulls 81-unit senior living project near Oak Hill

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SCARBOROUGH — The town could add another retirement community if a plan by a New York developer is approved.

The 81-unit assisted-living facility with a dementia ward would be built on Black Point Road near the intersection with Route 1. The developer, Wegman Cos. of Rochester, N.Y., owns and operates 14 assisted-living homes, most of them in New York. This would be its first home in Maine.

“We are for seniors who need some assistance with daily living activities (such as) medication management, food preparation and bathing,” Joe McEntee, vice president of senior housing for Wegman, said at a Monday night Planning Board meeting.

McEntee and civil engineer Andrew Johnston of Portland-based architectural firm SMRT presented a sketch plan review of the project.

The two-story facility would be about 59,000 square feet and employ about 50 people, McEntee said. About 35 of those employees would work full time.

The team downplayed the impact the project would have on the already-busy Oak Hill intersection. Johnston said the home wouldn’t attract very much traffic because most residents would not own cars. The preliminary proposal includes space for about 45 parking spaces.

“These tend to be very low-impact facilities,” Johnston said.

Still, several Planning Board members were concerned about the impact the building would have on the intersection.

“There are many times, not just occasionally, that traffic backs up on Black Point Road,” board member Ronald Mazer said. He said traffic is already bad enough that people turning onto Black Point Road from Amato’s or the Mobil station often wait a long time for an opening.

“Even if we had a light there, I can’t think of anything that’s going to handle the traffic going in and out of that facility,” Planning Board member Kerry Corthell said. “We already have so many problems in that area.”

Corthell also questioned whether the developer’s projections for parking needs are accurate.

“Every facility like this I’ve ever seen does not have enough parking,” she said.

Despite the concerns about traffic and parking, the board was enthusiastic about adding to the town’s portfolio of senior housing options.

“This design and this configuration is definitely a good start,” board member Cory Fellows said.

The project ultimately will need subdivision and site plan review from the Planning Board, as well as approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals. ZBA approval is necessary because of the proposed dementia care unit.

Scarborough is already home to several senior living facilities, including Piper Shores, Maine Veterans Home and Scarborough Terrace. According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 38.3 percent of Scarborough residents are over the age of 62.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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Work goes on for proposed Black Point park

SCARBOROUGH — The Planning Board on Monday continued its site plan review of the Sprague Corp.’s proposed commercial park at Black Point.

About 30 people sat through the review, despite having no chance to comment. Many residents have previously spoken against the plan, prompting Planning Board members to establish expectations.

“We appreciate all your input,” board Chairman Allen Paul said, “but how we individually feel as board members … is really not what we are here to decide.”

At the meeting, landscape architect Terry DeWan and traffic engineer Randy Dunton discussed traffic the board’s concerns about traffic.

The developers estimate that park would impact Spurwink, Black Point and Pleasant Hill roads and generate about 207 vehicles per hour on Black Point Road, where the park’s entrance would be established.

They also proposed a wider shoulder on Black Point Road, to allow cars to pass as others turn into the park.

The Planning Board was concerned about the developer’s plans for bus drop-off, the location of a gatehouse and, again, the size of the parking lot.

Seth Sprague said the park wouldn’t be feasible financially if the lot were too much smaller. He said one of his goals in building the park is to ease the burden of traffic and congestion at Scarborough Beach State Park.

“There are financial thresholds and there are infrastructure thresholds,” he said. “If there were fewer spots, we’d end up filling the facility more often. That’s more back-up on the road, more lack of availability. It doesn’t solve the problem.”

— Mario Moretto