Yarmouth housing proposal tests new development code

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YARMOUTH — With a new subdivision planned for East Main Street, some neighbors have questions about recent zoning changes.

The development plan is still conceptual and will be reviewed at the Aug. 13 Planning Board meeting. It will be one of the first applications to be reviewed under the Character-Based Development Code that was adopted in May 2013, which focuses more on how buildings look, opposed to what’s inside them.

The project at 224 East Main St., submitted by Paul Peck of LWS Development, would be a cottage-style development with small houses surrounding a central green space. It would make use of an existing farm house on the property.

Town planner Vanessa Farr said she has received no complaints about the plan, but has received inquiries from neighbors in the area. She said many of them didn’t know about the zoning and code changes. 

Farr said this project is in keeping with the feel of the neighborhood.

“I think the area where the project is, is in transition,” Farr said.

In his cover letter for the application, Peck said he understands the project is in a transitional zone and that the plan will balance between a rural and neighborhood feel. He said this means the sizes of the homes will be limited and there will be “breathing room” between the buildings. 

Peck also said the project would incorporate “landscaping that reflects the rural heritage of the area.” Each home will also have an attached barn to be used for parking and storage.

Farr said the cottage court style of housing provides an opportunity for smaller and more affordable housing. Peck’s letter said the housing is intended for retirees and those buying their first homes.

Front-yard space would be limited due to the number of homes, but the green space is intended for public use. The homes would have front porches to be used as more personal outdoor area for the residents.

The plan also incorporates a rural lane leading into the development, which would be for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. The lane would be 14 feet wide, which Peck said would create a “yield condition.” The lane would be gravel to maintain the rural feel.

Peck said the development would stay true to the character of Yarmouth and would be worthy of the town’s investment. The letter did not state how much this investment would cost.

“Introducing this kind of unique housing option to Route 1 Corridor will help with the local effort to re-frame this area as a walkable, mixed-use place,” he said.

Farr said this project is still in its early stages and will be looked at further at next week’s Planning Board meeting.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]. 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.