Traffic, safety concerns slow Yarmouth housing proposal

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YARMOUTH — At what was expected to be a final review last week, the Planning Board tabled a vote on the McKearney Village subdivision off Hillside Street.

Members decided instead to conduct a site walk and further discuss public concerns about safety and traffic issues.

Project manager William Conway of Sebego Technics in Westbrook said a few engineering details have been updated since the last public hearing in March, but the plan essentially remains the same.

The project includes construction of 38 single-family homes in a cluster subdivision on 58 acres. The property is owned by Elizabeth Dickinson and about 55 percent, or 32 acres, will be protected as open space.

The total project also includes a 32-unit multi-family complex that will need board approval at a later date.

The proposed plan includes the extension of Sycamore Drive to Hillside Street to promote neighborhood connectivity and pedestrian movement.

But nearly 20 of the 55 people in attendance on June 22 expressed concerns about the road extension, potential traffic from the cut-through, lack of sidewalks along Hillside Street, the density of the project, vehicle speeds and the planning process itself.

Suzanne Jones of Sycamore Drive said there has not been enough time for the board or the public to process the complexities of the proposed project. She said without a traffic study and complete site walk the board cannot make an informed decision.

John Bartholomew of Hickory Lane said he is concerned about the cut-through traffic. Kate Shub of Fieldstone Drive said her concern is the proposed 32-unit apartment complex.

Carroll Dunn, of Cumberland Street, started a petition regarding the proposed development and its impact on safety and traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods; the environmental impact on wetlands and the Royal River; the impact on the supply and quality of drinking water; reduced buffers for storm-water management, and an increase in sewage. Nearly 40 residents have signed the petition.

Town Planner Vanessa Farr said the board and staff heard the concerns of the public and will hold a complete site walk in July. A traffic study is not advised because it is not felt that the results will change the layout of the project, she said.

But if there is a problem with current vehicle speed and people using the Harrison Middle School access as a cut-through, alternate traffic patterns may have to be addressed, she said.

“If we are trying to create a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly community and have children and their parents participate in safe roads to schools programs, then we need to address that with connectivity,” Farr said.

She said there will be another public hearing on July 27 after a site walk is held Monday, July 11, at 5:30 p.m. at the access driveway at Hillside Street and Harrison Middle School.

“A decision will occur at the next meeting,” Farr said. “We will have enough time to consider public comment, talk to the developer and discuss alternatives.”

To view the proposed plan, visit the planning office at 200 Main St. or contact Farr at 846-2401.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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