South Portland sets final Knightville planning forum; veterinary clinic to move in

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Planners want to hear how residents see future development in the Knightville neighborhood.

The Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee has been reviewing each neighborhood in the city and created the Knightville Fore and Aft Committee to solicit input on what residents, visitors and investors all want.

The last in a series of public forums to gather insight will be held Thursday, Nov. 15, in City Hall Council Chambers from 6-8 p.m.

Planning Director Tex Haeuser said the committee will eventually tackle various aspects of development, such as parking and infrastructure, but for now are focusing on zoning.

“The underlying philosophy that has been accepted is that this is one way to help prevent large new projects from coming in,” Haeuser said, noting a proposal last year to develop affordable housing units in the former Martin’s Point Health Care building at 51 Ocean St.

A subcommittee has proposed changes to city zoning that they hope will prevent large-scale development in the two districts that encompass the Knightville neighborhood – the Village Commercial district, which runs along Ocean Street – and the Village Residential, which flanks Ocean Street on either side.

“We want to help existing property owners do more with their properties on a more limited basis,” Haeuser said.

In August, two of the nine members, Paul Trusiani and Phil Notis – who both own property in Knightville – emailed proposals to Haeuser. The committee worked off these suggestions to come to the proposal they’ll be discussing next week.

Trusiani and Notis proposed extending the Village Extension district in Mill Creek to overlay the Village Commercial zone with modifications that would include eliminating the residential density limit of 24 units per acre.

In bisected lots, which are those split by the two districts, a building with up to four residential units could, under the proposal, be built on a lot that meets the 2,500-square-foot lot size, and units may be detached or attached. For letter streets, Trusiani wrote that any lot bordering two letter streets may be subdivided into two lots as long as each subdivided lot meets the minimum 2,500-square-foot requirement.

However, the subcommittee recommended that the VC zone not be expanded into the letter streets. Instead, it suggested clarifying the zoning rules for bisected lots.

“If we are to leave lots bisected by the zone line, I think the goal then becomes to see how we can allow these lots to benefit from the uses and residential density standards of the (Village Commercial) zone but, within the (Village Residential) portion of the lots, to adhere to the (Village Residential) height and setback standards,” Haeuser wrote in an Aug. 31 memo to the subcommittee.

Under the subcommittee’s revised proposal, Haeuser said zoning in the commercial district would stay “more or less the same,” and would not change the maximum 24 residential units per acre, but allow a minimum of eight units per lot.

Further, to “prevent large development,” Haeuser said the proposal would limit new building footprints to 10,500 square feet in the zone.

The maximum height would remain 50 feet in the commercial zone, except for any portion of the building within 50 feet of the residential zone, which would be capped at 40 feet to match the residential zone.

Key amendments to residential zoning, according to Haeuser, would allow a second residential unit on lots where only one was allowed, and then allow another unit for each additional 10th of an acre after that.

“The Subcommittee felt that two units per lot strikes a reasonable density balance,” Haeuser said in his memo.

The proposal would also reduce the required minimum lot size from 7,500 square feet to 2,500 square feet and decrease the required off-street parking standard from two spaces for detached single-family homes and 1.5 spaces for most multi-family units to 1 space per unit.

The subcommittee also recommends reducing the front and side yard setbacks for principal buildings and the side and rear setbacks for accessory buildings.

Haeuser said the committee will consider input gathered during the Nov. 15 forum and present a proposal during a Dec. 11 workshop with the City Council.

So long as the council doesn’t propose any “major changes,” Haeuser said, they’ll draft ordinance language based on recommendations and begin the process of adoption, which would require a Planning Board public hearing, another council workshop and two council public hearings, all of which would happen next year.

Haeuser said the committee has expanded outreach efforts by alerting Knightville building occupants, in addition to providing notice to building owners.

“There are some changes on the table that do affect property owners and their ability to invest in property,” Haeuser said. “There are a few that are enhancing what they can do and others that are limiting it. … We do hope property owners are paying attention.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

A public forum will be held on Nov. 15 for residents to provide input on how they’d like to see zoning handled on and around Ocean Street in South Portland.

Veterinary clinic headed to Knightville

SOUTH PORTLAND — After several decades on Cottage Road, Cape Veterinary Clinic is moving to Knightville.

The clinic is expected to open Dec. 4 at 51 Ocean St., which has been vacant since 2015, when Martin’s Point Health Care moved out of the space.

The South Portland Housing Authority in 2017 proposed redeveloping the property as a five-story building with commercial or retail space on the first floor, with up to 48 apartments on the floors above. But that plan was abandoned in the face of opposition from the neighborhood and city officials.

In a Facebook Post, Cape Veterinary Clinic said its move from 391 Cottage Road is prompted by parking and traffic issues and a shortage of space. It said the Ocean Street property will provide easy parking, more convenient hours and expanded hours.

— Jocelyn Van Saun

Cape Veterinary Clinic will move to 51 Ocean St. in South Portland on Dec. 4.

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