2017-05-19 / Front Page

Enterprise housing: A logical decision

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Enterprise Business Park on Route 1 was designed and approved as a state of the art commercial center in Scarborough 13 years ago, but never fully developed. A new proposal before the planning board right now, envisions some of that under utilized commercial space be developed into multifamily housing.

The plan, which went through the master plan review phase Monday, calls for a planned use development that could include between 220 and 440 residential units on the property, which is located between Scarborough Downs Road and Haigis Parkway.

Senior Planner Jay Chace said the master plan phase is an opportunity for the board to review the general layout and placement of the buildings.

The purpose of the master plan phase, he said, “is to lay out the concept and layout of the development.” Chace said how big the buildings are and how many units they house are “details that will get picked up” in the subdivision site plan.

Exact phasing of the project is not known yet.

“I’d have to think when it does get built, it will be in phases,” said Jason Vafiades, a principal at Atlantic Resource Consultants, the engineering firm helping Commercial Place LLC through the permitting process.

According to Atlantic Resource Consultants “after the protracted build out of the approved development, coupled with recent development interest from a national residential real estate investment company, the property owner wishes to explore the possibility of creating a (planned use development) which incorporates a residential component in order to revitalize development within the property while also providing land available for housing inventory.”

“The idea is to add a residential component similar in nature to the commercial component (next door) and make the overall property more marketable,” said Andrew Johnston, an engineer with Atlantic Resource Consultants.

The property sits in the Haigis Parkway Zone, which allows a mixture of residential and commercial use on the same property as long as 60 percent is dedicated to commercial and 40 percent to residential. The concept, as presented this week, is to have 10 commercial sites and 11 residential sites, as well as a clubhouse/meeting center and a series of shared open spaces, a walking trail and connection to the abutting Scarborough Downs property.

Given the slow development of the commercial side of Enterprise Business Park, Chace said a challenge will be to make sure the residential development doesn’t outpace commercial development and skew the 60-40 split in the proposed development.

“It’s going to be important to figure out a phasing plan so we will be comfortable with the 60/40 split,” said planning board alternate Rachel Hendrickson.

Chairman Corey Fellows said he shares concerns with residential demand on the site outpacing commercial growth, but feels the board, planning staff and the developers can find a “mechanism” to ensure the split is achieved.

Despite the zoning requirement, Vice Chairman Nick McGee said he wasn’t so much concerned about keeping to the 60/40 split.

“I don’t see the hard need of you sticking to 60/40,” he said.

Conceptually, the plan gained the approval of members of the planning board this week, but planning board alternate Rick DuPerre was concerned with the impact the development could have on the school system. DuPerre wondered with all the other housing development projects in the works “at what point do we evaluate” how many apartments we have approved and say “we are going to run out of space in the schools.”

Fellows said such a topic is not under the planning board’s purview “at least directly.”

“I am not saying there are not larger issues involved, but it is not typically something the board engages in directly. That’s not to say, we wouldn’t hear some of those concerns or they aren’t valid,” Fellows said.

Chace said that discussion, and the discussion on how future development could impact Scarborough and its municipal and school services, is the perfect topic to be brought up during the Comprehensive

Plan update, which is set to launch next week.

The town will host the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Kick-Off Event, Tuesday, May 23 at 6:30 p.m. at town hall.

The plan, which is required to be updated decade or so, sets out a series of recommendations on development, land use and long-term planning from residents, business owners and town staff.

The impact of the glut of proposed multifamily housing is something that the town council and other town committees have been playing attention to. A town council workshop on the topic was held in December and discussions continue.

Aside from the Commercial Place LLC project, the planning board also reviewed Carrier Woods, an 84-unit residential project Risbara Properties LLC is proposing at 79 Mussey Road. Tony Panciocco, Northeast Civil Solutions’ director of engineering, said the plan is to construct seven 12-unit buildings with a mixture of 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom units.

The property will have a dog park and gathering spaces for residents, two items Hendrickson applauded. The property will also include a sidewalk connecting to Honan Road to allow pedestrians, but not vehicles, to use the property to connect to the sidewalk along Mussey Road heading toward the Gallery Shoppes.

Shirley Curry, an abutter at 91 Mussey Road, had no issue with the development coming next door, but did express concern about members of the subdivision traversing on her 66-acre piece of property, which she is trying to keep preserved for wildlife.

“I would like to see a fence along my property line to keep (people) from using (my land) as their backyard,” she said.

Rocco Risbara said he is not including a fence at this time, but is open to the idea, if the board determines it is needed.

“It looks like a good project. I hope you can work something out with the abutter with the concerns about her private property,” McGee told Risbara.

“You are in pretty good shape overall,” Fellows said just prior to the board giving the project preliminary approval. A more formal approval at will be needed before the project can be constructed.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarbroughleader.com

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