Yarmouth hopes to refine development rules for Route 1, village

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YARMOUTH — Two Route 1 districts may be combined, and zoning in the village may be redefined, as the Planning Board works on a new Character-Based Development Code.

The Planning Board over the past few months has been drafting the code with the intention of giving the village a more traditional look and feel. The town’s original Character-Based Development Code, which sets standards for the appearance of buildings, was adopted in May 2013 and applied only to Route 1.

“It was looking to move Route 1 from a highway commercial feel to more of a village feel,” Town Planner Alex Jaegerman said.

The expansion of Patriot Place at the former Down-East Village motel property at 705 U.S. Route 1 is the first project being developed under the code.

The intention of character-based development, Jaegerman said, is to regulate the appearance of an area or zone so it has “the more historic and traditional pattern of development.”

Two public input sessions, Planapalooza I and II, were held over the year following the adoption of the new code. The second session, held in 2014, looked to expand the code to the village.

The Planning Board held its first public hearing on the code expansion draft in June, and held a second Oct. 12. Jaegerman said the decisions made by the board so far have been reached by consensus, not a formal vote, and the draft has yet to be finalized.

The first thing being proposed in the draft is to combine the two Route 1 districts into a single district. Jaegerman said the two districts were becoming very similar to each other.

“We realized we didn’t need to manage two Route 1 districts,” he said. “We only need one.”

With the decision to combine the districts came a discussion about drive-through service windows. One of the zones, CD4-C1, which is at the outer edge of Route 1 near Interstate 295 Exits 15 and 17, allows drive-throughs; CD4-C2, which is the inner section of Route 1, does not.

The Planning Board decided that when the draft is finalized and the two districts are combined, drive-thrus won’t be permitted anywhere in the combined zone.

In the draft code, the board is also proposing to create a new Character District 4 in the village. The village now has two zones, Village 1 and Village 2, which cover the length of Main Street towards Lower Falls Landing. Jaegerman said new business owners and developers aren’t allowed to build new construction in the village zones and must move into existing buildings.

In the new CD4 zone, more mixed-use buildings would be allowed and new retail and commercial buildings could be added. The new businesses would have to be built close to the road and have traditional architecture.

“Most of (Main Street) is already developed, but this would allow for the gaps to be filled in,” Jaegerman said.

The board is also proposing to split the Medium Density Residential zone in the village, and rename and redefine each new zone. The residential area closer to Main Street would be named Character District 3 (CD3) Traditional and all new homes in the zone would need to be compact and built close to the street.

The residential area within the village, but farther from Main Street, would be renamed CD3 Conventional. Jaegerman said this zone would have the suburban feel that already exists there.

Jaegerman said the next public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 9, but could be pushed to a later date, depending on the board’s schedule. The draft is expected to be finalized at the next public hearing and recommended to the Town Council for adoption.

The Town Council could adopt the new code by January or February, Jaegerman said, but it might take until the spring, depending on how many revisions are made.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.