Workshop on North Yarmouth development plan likely in January

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A potential four-phase economic development plan for the town center could go to a workshop next month.

The Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, which presented the proposal to the Board of Selectmen Dec. 4, has gathered ideas for how to make the most of 114 acres of town-owned land in the village center. The committee’s recommendations could go to a public vote at the June 2013 Town Meeting.

Steve Palmer, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said his panel could meet with the economic development committee next month in a workshop, “to figure out what we want to hammer out first, how we want to approach (the committee’s) plan, and then figure out what kind of money would be required to get this going.”

The question is what comes first, Palmer said.

“Should we try to find some money in the budget to help pay for a rendering done by a landscape architect, so the people in the community can have a good visual clue as to what is being proposed?,” he said.

Another key part of the process will be coming up with costs of the various pieces of the project, to give residents a better idea of the financial impact of what they vote on.

A recommendation in the first phase is development of a triangular area of North Yarmouth into a more visible, inviting and active town center. That triangle, which in part houses Town Hall, runs from the intersection of Routes 9 and 115, down Route 115 to Parsonage Road, and back along Route 9 to the intersection of that road and Route 115.

The second phase would include development of a business park at the spent, town-owned Cassidy Pit, on Walnut Hill Parkway. A lot would be retained for a possible future location of Public Works.

A third phase depends on whether the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors votes to close North Yarmouth Memorial School. If it does, the committee calls for the town to obtain the title to the school building and develop it as a 37-unit elderly housing project.

A day-care component would be eyed for the space, and public rights to the library and gym would be retained. A nearby property would be retained for future use as an elementary school.

The fourth phase would see the Public Works site vacated, with the department either regionalized or relocated to the business park. The area would be converted to affordable workforce housing, as well as cottage-style housing allowing people to downsize and retire to the town center area.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.