Scarborough weighs housing diversity, solar energy proposals

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

SCARBOROUGH — The Planning Board in January is slated to review proposals that would make solar power more accessible in residential neighborhoods and change zoning to allow more diverse housing.

The amendment to the renewable energy zoning ordinance, which gives residents the option of pulling power from free-standing solar arrays, received preliminary approval from the Town Council in a first reading in December. 

The amendment is an addition to a 2009 ordinance that allows wind power in shared “common open space,” but not solar.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland, with help from Portland-based ReVision Energy, wants to use solar arrays to provide power to a 13-home residential project off Broadturn Road, Town Planner Dan Bacon said at a December council meeting.

The amendment would allow for solar arrays to be installed in shared common space or open green space, such as parks or courtyards, according to the ordinance. 

The second item to be vetted by the Planning Board at the Jan. 11 meeting is the proposal to expand zoning limits regarding multi-family dwellings in the town’s  Town and Village Center districts in the Oak Hill and Dunstan Landing neighborhoods. 

Stemming from goals outlined in the Comprehensive Plan, elected officials and town staff have worked in recent years to bring a more diverse housing stock to Scarborough. New this year but not yet complete, for example, is the Habitat for Humanity project, along with the Avesta Housing project, at 577 Route 1, which will repurpose the historic Southgate House into a 50-unit apartment complex. 

The proposed zoning changes in the TVC districts would allow for more mixed housing and single units in the same building with two- and three-bedroom dwellings. The change wouldn’t change the allowed density, Bacon said, but would increase housing diversity. 

As an example, 12 two- and three-bedroom units allowed in a 10,000-square-foot building, which is the maximum, could be changed to a higher number of single-bedroom apartments. The number of people living in the building won’t necessarily change, according to the Long Range Planning Committee’s Oct. 17 letter to the Planning Board, but the choice of residential dwellings would be wider. 

Pending Planning Board approval, the council will revisit both amendments during a public hearing and second reading later this winter.  

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.