South Portland gets draft plan for Mill Creek transformation

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SOUTH PORTLAND — A first draft of the Mill Creek Master Plan was presented at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.

Drafted by the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee, the plan aims to adjust zoning in the area from Broadway to E Street through six general objectives, to transform it into a multi-use, traditional downtown in the next 20 years.

“If the (existing) Mill Creek zoning reflects any vision at all, it is that of a post-WWII auto-orientated suburban center model with little regard for environmental impacts or the health and well-being of South Portland citizens,” Planning Director Tex Haeuser wrote in a master plan overview.

The need for a master plan stems from the principal recommendation for Mill Creek in the 2012 Comprehensive Plan, Haeuser said Thursday morning. 

According to the draft, major objectives for the area include making the neighborhood more pedestrian-focused; establishing a clear identity as a place to live and visit; increasing demographic diversity; increasing green space and environmental sustainability, and protecting Knightville from the desired development of Mill Creek.

The master plan also includes examples of enhancement scenarios, including increasing pedestrian access on Broadway near Ocean Street and transforming parts of E Street to the “Mill Creek Neighborhood Core” district. This shift would limit “nonresidential activities” in order to maintain a more quiet neighborhood feel, according to the draft. 

The draft, presented to the council by City Manager Jim Gailey, is available on the city website. Residents are encouraged to email their comments to Haeuser, and attend upcoming meetings on Thursday, Feb. 26, at City Hall.

The first, for Mill Creek business and property owners, will be at 4 p.m. The second, open to anyone, will be held at 6 p.m.

Once the committee and council have gathered feedback, a final draft of the master plan will be configured and presented to the council. 

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

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South Portland Planning Board to tackle armory proposal

SOUTH PORTLAND — A $2.5 million proposal was formally submitted this week to turn the former Maine Army National Guard Armory into a facility boasting gas pumps, a convenience store and possible cafe.

The armory, at 682 Broadway, was purchased from the city in November for $700,000 by Topsham-based Priority Real Estate Group with the intention of transforming the World War II-era structure into a multi-functional facility. 

Priority will seek Planning Board approval to change the Residential District A zone to a Conditional Armory Zone, according to the Feb. 10 Planning Board workshop agenda. The workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m.

— Alex Acquisto

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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.