2013-05-24 / Front Page

Mixed use for Crossroads presented to Town Council

Zoning change could pave way for racino at Scarborough Downs
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


If a mixed used zoning package gets the support of the Scarborough Town Council, the corner of Route 1 and Scarborough Downs Road may soon become the entrance to a village center with business and residential developments if land owned by the harness racing facility is sold to developers. (Michael Kelley photo) If a mixed used zoning package gets the support of the Scarborough Town Council, the corner of Route 1 and Scarborough Downs Road may soon become the entrance to a village center with business and residential developments if land owned by the harness racing facility is sold to developers. (Michael Kelley photo) New zoning on 450-acres owned by Scarborough Downs may open the possibility of a racino being added to the historic harness racing facility.

A zoning package that would allow mixed use on the Scarborough Downs property was unveiled to the Scarborough Town Council last week.

The group voted 6-0 to pass the zoning package on to the Planning Board for further review. Councilor Kate St. Clair was absent from the meeting due to illness.

The zone, The Crossroads Planned Development District, came out of a series of meetings and workshops the town’s long range planning committee has had with town officials, Scarborough Downs representatives, business owners, abutting property owners and members of the general public.


A new proposal to change Scarborough Downs’ land from business to mixed-use zoning would not affect the operation of the 60-year-old harness racing facility . Scarborough Downs has 400 acres of property on the market. Town officials feel the zone change would open the possibility of rebirth at the site. (Michael Kelley photo) A new proposal to change Scarborough Downs’ land from business to mixed-use zoning would not affect the operation of the 60-year-old harness racing facility . Scarborough Downs has 400 acres of property on the market. Town officials feel the zone change would open the possibility of rebirth at the site. (Michael Kelley photo) “The long-range planning committee has been working pretty systematically to update zoning in town,” said Town Planner Dan Bacon. “They have been working on this off and on for a year to make the Scarborough Downs property and some of the adjacent properties consistent with recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan of 2006.”

The property is currently located in the Business 2 zone, which Bacon said allows for a lot of commercial uses, but not residential and mixed-use development like the new zoning district would.

Bacon said the Crossroads Planned Development District would be “the broadest zone in town in terms of what uses can occur” on the property. Single or multi-family homes; senior housing; residential care facilities; live and work units; business offices and professional services; hotels or motels; financial, insurance or real estate offices and places of worship would all be permitted if part of a planned development. The zone would also permit municipal buildings, fully enclosed places of assembly and commercial outdoor recreation, among other uses.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the zoning change during its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, June 3.

The current zone does not permit a casino or gambling facility, but Bacon said the new zone could, if the idea were to pass local and state referendum votes.

Bacon said the new zone is designed to take affect whether or not Scarborough Downs adds a racino. The new zone, he said, was designed to be flexible to “enable creativity.”

“It’s nice to see the flexibility,” said Art Dillon, a Scarborough resident and president of the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce. “It has been 10 years since the Comprehensive Plan process started. It is time to open the doors a little bit and see if we can get some more businesses in there.”

Bacon said the idea is to develop the land in a way that would turn the area into a town center, where people could live and do business. Turning that vision into a reality, he said, needs to be done with care.

“The infrastructure needs to be thought out carefully because it is not likely to be developed all at once,” Bacon said.

Andrew Ingalls, a broker with CBRE | The Boulos Company who is helping to market the Scarborough Downs property to potential developers, said a casino on the property —which Scarborough voters have rejected twice — is the thing needed to revitalize the property. A gaming facility, he said, would “infuse a huge amount of interest in the area.”

Scarborough Downs property has been placed on the market in smaller parcels ranging from $1.12 million to $6.91 million. In total, 400 of the Down’s 500 acres are on the market.

Ed MacColl, who has been an attorney for Scarborough Downs and its owner Sharon Terry for 20 years, said Terry is completely dedicated to saving harness racing and a racino on the property would help her do so.

“I am very excited to hear what I am hearing here,” Barney Martin, a resident of Foxwell Drive — a short drive from Scarborough Downs — said at the Town Council meeting last week.

Martin, who called Scarborough Downs an “amazing corporate citizen,” said residents should do “anything we can do to support a business that has been in town for 60-plus years.”

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