Yarmouth neighbors wary of supermarket's plans

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YARMOUTH — Neighbors already have several concerns only days after an application was submitted for an expansion of the Hannaford supermarket development on Route 1.

The application submitted to Town Planner Vanessa Farr on Aug. 26 is to build six new commercial buildings. Hannaford Bros. Co. is working with South Portland-based engineering company Fay, Spofford and Thorndike.

Hannaford bought a church and parsonage near its existing store and hopes to tear them down to expand parking areas and construct the new buildings. The development follows last year’s zoning changes and the Character-Based Development Code, which focuses more on how buildings look, rather than what’s inside them.

Town Manager Nat Tupper said he is unsure if Hannaford knows how the buildings will be used, as neither he nor Farr have read through the whole application. Tupper said he believes Hannaford plans to rent the buildings to other businesses. The buildings range in size from 2,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet, and two having outdoor seating areas. 

Elizabeth Hope, of Rogers Road, said while having new businesses will be good for tax revenue, they may not be in the best interest of the town.

“I do support economic development in this town, absolutely, but I’m not so sure a local Maine business will move into a 10,000-square-foot building,” Hope said.

She said the larger building looks like it may be used for a box store, while the buildings with outdoor seating may be restaurants. She said the “scope and size” of this development isn’t in keeping with Yarmouth’s character.

“We live in Yarmouth because it’s a nice, quiet place to live,” Hope said.

Hope, and other people who live in the neighborhood behind Hannaford, said they are also concerned about noise that could come from construction. Neighbors said renovations to Hannaford that started in the spring have been loud and they expect same from the new development.

Hope and other neighbors said they will propose the town adopt a noise ordinance at the Town Council meeting on Sept. 4.

“The scope of what they want to do, there’s no way they can do it during normal business hours,” Hope said.

Regina Kusche, of Rebecca Lane, agreed, saying that if they can’t get an ordinance, she expects to hear construction late at night and early in the morning.

“If we don’t get an ordinance, this will be happening all day and night,” Kusche said.

Bonnie Depp, of Rogers Road, lives across the street from an abutter of the Hannaford property and said she expects the noise to be loud and constant.

“I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when they start construction,” Depp said. “I can’t even fathom it.”

The neighbors also expressed concerns about property values. They said their homes may not be worth as much if they are next to a large commercial development.

“A few people said to me, ‘we should just get out of here while we can,'” Kusche said.

Gertrude Sweetland, of Rogers Road, said she is surprised this kind of development is happening so close to her home, which is also a day-care center.

“Nobody thinks it’ll be in their neighborhood,” Sweetland said. “Now it’s happening in ours.”

According to Hope, many in the neighborhood still don’t know about the development. The engineering company sent out letters Aug. 22 to abutting property owners only, one of whom is Councilor Andrew Kittredge. Neighbors not abutting the property didn’t receive letters and Hope said she only learned about the plan because Kusche told her.

Sweetland said she believes the town isn’t working to do what’s best for residents.

“The Planning Board isn’t looking out for us. Town Council isn’t looking out for us,” Sweetland said. “They’re just looking for more tax revenue.”

Tupper said misinformation has led to the neighbors’ concern.

“I do think there’s some confusion that’s led to a little bit of panic,” he said.

Some of the neighbors said they believe this plan will be “streamlined” and will bypass the Planning Board and public comment. Tupper said that probably will not happen.

First, Farr has to review the application and determine whether it is complete. Then, along with the Consolidated Review Committee (CRC), she will determine if it is a development plan or a building and lot plan. Development plans must be approved by the Planning Board, while building and lot plans can be approved by the CRC.

If the plan only included constructing the six buildings, Tupper said it could pass solely on whether it meets the standards of the Character-Based Development Code.

But because Hannaford wants to build a new entrance, the plans must go through more review. Although the application calls the proposal a building and lot plan, Tupper said it looks more like a development plan.

If the entrance is deemed to be a road, it will be considered a development plan. If it is deemed to be a driveway, as the application claims, it will be considered a building and lot plan. Farr has 14 calendar days from when the application was submitted to make a decision.

Tupper also put to rest a rumor that a path for utility access would be constructed through the yard of an abutter. He said there is an easement there that leads to Hannaford, but that it’s for a water main.

Tupper also said the plan will likely go to the Planning Board for review regardless of what the CRC determines because “it’s only fair to the applicant and abutters.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Sidebar Elements

A plan has been submitted by Hannaford Brothers Co. to add six commerical buildings, a driveway, and an expanded parking lot to the company’s existing supermarket at 756 U.S. Route 1 in Yarmouth.

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.