Yarmouth in no rush on revised development code

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YARMOUTH — The Town Council will not take action this month on a proposed Character-Based Development Code.

The draft code was presented to the council at a Dec. 7 workshop by the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee.

While some residents and councilors supported the proposal, others shared concerns they’d like to see addressed before a vote is scheduled.

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.

In July, the council asked CPIC to revise a Feb. 13  draft – which built on a 2015 draft created by consultants at Town Planning and Urban Design LLC – by continuing work on the Village Center (CD4) and the North Yarmouth Academy (SD1) districts.

The CBDC draft aims to “protect and enhance the traditional character of the Yarmouth Village and environs” and incorporates both the adopted Route 1 Corridor component, as well as the newly added Village Code.

CPIC Chairwoman Lynne Seeley said the committee has been meeting weekly since September to revise the code.

In a memo to the council, Seeley highlighted changes made to the Route 1 Corridor in February and those made more recently to CD4 and SD1.

The proposed boundaries of CD4 have been pulled back, “largely following the current Village zoning district boundaries, and incorporating a portion of the current Village II zoning district along Marina Road.”

Additionally, a portion of the Village II district has been retained on lower Main Street – from Marina Road to East Main Street – to provide a “primarily residential living area.” The current Village III district, on Bridge Street, has also been retained.

In all of CD4, standards were altered to increase the maximum lot width from 80 to 120 feet. Also included is a new 35-foot height limit for buildings, which continue to be capped at three stories.

The revised draft also said there was no side setback requirement between property lines in CD4.

Council Chairwoman Pat Thompson said her fear with the proposed extension of the CD4 district is that commercializing lots on Marina Road would be somewhat of a shock to people living nearby.

“Marina Road has a history of being a mixed-use street,” Seeley said. “CD4 is a mixed-use district that gets both residential and non-residential … we need both of those types of uses in the district in order to make it really strong.”

CPIC and Planning Board member Judy Colby-George said the draft is the product of extensive public input and has been supported by the Planning Board.

“A lot of thought has gone into the boundaries,” she added.

Another member of CPIC, Ed Ashley, spoke against the committee’s recommendation, saying he could not support adoption of CD4.

“If there is a gap between adoption of the Character-Based Code in this area and the adoption of a preservation measure, there is a possibility that we could lose something we value,” he said, adding that the scope of the district is too large.

Paul Goldstein, of Falmouth, said he owns and rents eight units in two buildings on Marina Road, which lie close to the property line of Women to Women Health Clinic.

The clinic is looking to move to somewhere in “the greater Yarmouth, Cumberland, Falmouth area,” but hasn’t found a permanent location yet, according to Economic Development Director Scott LaFlamme.

“In changing the zone and … allowing any type of business up against our property … I just don’t think that’s necessarily the most prudent way to do things, Goldstein said. “I feel like it would be a hardship for my tenants and my property value if someone built a building 8 feet from one of my apartment buildings.”

According to Seeley, three of North Yarmouth Academy’s buildings were removed from SD1 and included in the CD4 at the school’s request. She said in meeting with NYA to discuss district boundaries, CPIC found they are in the process of trying to sell a few properties.

“They had some suggestions for the uses that be allowed in the SD1 NYA district,” Seeley said. “They wanted to include museums, galleries, parking lots, and residential. Some of those uses may be or may come to be part of their campus.”

In February, CPIC decided to combine the CD4-C1 and CD4-C2 Route 1 districts into one “Route 1 Corridor CD4-C district.”

“Having had the benefit of a couple years of implementing the Route 1 CBDC, it really became apparent that the differences between the two districts, in terms of the standards and the uses, was so minimal that it really didn’t make sense to have two districts,” Seeley said.

The district boundaries were also modified to include properties that were “left out” when the Route 1 Corridor was first adopted in 2013, including Commercial-zoned properties at the southern and northern ends of Route One and on Forest Falls Drive.

While Councilors David Craig, Tim Shannon and April Humphrey spoke in favor of the draft and were prepared to vote on it at a regular meeting, Councilors Thompson, Richard Plourde, Jim MacLeod and Rob Waeldner felt the document wasn’t ready yet and they needed to discuss the draft further at an upcoming Operations Committee meeting.

“We’ve got plenty of time to build this thing,” MacLeod said. “There’s no rush.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

The Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee presented the Town Council with a revised draft and map of the town’s Character-Based Development Code on Thursday, Dec. 8.