Waynflete submits plans for future growth in Portland's West End

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PORTLAND — A private school in the city’s West End is looking for approval from the city to create a zone for future growth.

The Waynflete Overlay Zone would include the existing school campus and three residential buildings the school could acquire in the future. It also would include regulations for how the Waynflete School could expand.

The long-range plan for Waynflete has been in the works for about a year and a half and has included the work of a community consultation committee made up of school representatives, neighbors and city officials.

The Planning Board is scheduled to discuss the zoning request Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. in Room 209 at City Hall.

Waynflete, which serves students from preschool through grade 12, is located between Spring and Danforth streets in the Western Promenade neighborhood. During meetings held this spring to discuss the school’s future growth, some neighbors expressed disapproval of and concern over the expansion plans. The Western Promenade Neighborhood Association came out in opposition to any campus growth.

“I think it’s fair to say there are lots of areas of common ground and some of disagreement,” Headmaster Mark Segar said about the final proposal.

The overlay zone includes a “core” and an “edge.” New construction would be allowed in the core, while the edge would have to continue to present a “residential face,” Segar said. While there had been discussion about allowing taller buildings on campus in exchange for not expanding the edge, that idea was ruled out.

“No development is to be proposed that is out of character,” Segar said.

The three residential buildings that are not Waynflete-owned, but are included in the overlay zone for possible future expansion, are 11 Fletcher St., and the duplexes at 25 and 27 Storer St. and 10 and 12 Greyhurst Park. Segar said that the school had no plans right now to acquire the properties, and suggested it would be a decade or so before acquisitions are considered.

There are provisions within the proposal that restrict use of the three buildings to residential or mixed use. Segar said there is also a residential replacement clause that basically would require Waynflete to replace any residential units it converts. The replacement units have to be on campus.

“We’re looking at potentially re-establishing some residential uses on campus,” he said. “Right now I’m the only one that lives on campus. We think more (faculty) living on campus might be good.”

Having residents on campus, Segar said, also would address some neighbors’ concerns that the campus creates a “hollowed out” feeling in the neighborhood at night.

The school is not considering becoming a boarding school, he said, as some have speculated. He also said the school has made a commitment that its student population will not fluctuate more than 5 percent.

“The overlay zone is to address program expansion needs,” Segar said.

Among those needs, he said, is more room for the lower school for library and technology uses. Studio and lab space is also needed.

The Sept. 22 meeting is a workshop. Segar said he expects more neighborhood meetings to be scheduled during the Planning Board process.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net