2017-11-17 / Front Page

After pause, Bessey project continues

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Nearly a decade after Bessey Commons opened, property developer Cyndy Taylor, president of Housing Initiatives of New England, is ready for phase two and was before the planning board at its last meeting to unveil preliminary plans for a nearly 13,000-square-foot, three-story 40- unit building in the abutting lot.

The proposed building will join a 10-year old senior citizen facility that was created in the old Bessey School, which closed in 1997 and in 2008 was converted to a 54-unit apartment building for individuals 55 and older.

Taylor said the second phase was mentioned during the permitting process for Bessey Commons, but was never constructed.

“This was anticipated, but never happened. The shapes have changed, the parking layout has changed,” said Curtis Neufield, vice president of Brunswick-based Sitelines, which also worked on the Bessey school renovation.

Although the second phase will be constructed more than 10 years after the first phase, both buildings will have similar looks. Taylor said all the units will be wheelchair accessible and have similar floor plans to the units in the existing Bessey Commons building.

“We are trying to coordinate the design of phase 2 with the look of phase 1 – the material, the brick and the white clapboard. The look we have with Bessey 1, the addition to the school, is going to be continued into our second building,” Taylor told the planning board members last month.

The land is town-owned, but Planning Director Jay Chace said the applicant, Housing Initiatives of New England has a lease agreement to develop the property.

He said staff does have concern about impact to abutting properties in terms of buffering and lighting and the project’s storm water management plan.

“There are some details to iron out, but we are heading in a good direction with what is being proposed,” Chace said.

Planning board member Roger Beeley is pleased with the plan and said once completed the new housing building will be a “great addition to the town.”

“I think what you have done so far is terrific and what I am looking at here, looks great,” Beeley said.

Planning board alternate Rick DuPerre said his only concern with the project is the traffic it will generate and the parking request (57 spaces for 40 units).

Taylor said she is interested in putting walking trails in the woods behind the property, which she said used to be used as a Girl Scout camp and because of that and other recreational offerings she is proposing at the new facility, she is asking the board to waive her parks and recreation impact fee.

New residential projects are required to pay money toward future town park and recreation amenities unless waived by the planning board because the plan includes recreational offerings such as open space, trails or active recreation areas.

“I don’t like making exceptions based on the type of facility you are because where do you draw the line?” planning board member Nick McGee asked. “I don’t like picking winners and losers. If everyone is going to play by the rules, everyone should play be the rules, but I understand you are providing a lot of recreational opportunities already.”

Planning board member Robyn Saunders and board chairman Corey Fellows said they were not supportive of waiving the recreational impact fee.

The second phase of the project, once completed, will bring to conclusion a commercial/residential development in that area of town. Taylor owns Bessey Square, a 1.8-acre piece of property next to Bessey Commons. The planning board approved a plan in 2006 that called for three-building commercial development on site. The first building, which houses Scarborough Grounds and Gallery Hair Salon, was constructed, but further work stalled due to the economy and the other development pods sat largely vacant for several years until the summer of 2015 when Taylor returned to the planning board to revive the development. A new plan was proposed, and ultimately adopted by board and in October 2016, O’Reilly’s Cure opened and CWS Architects set up shop in a newly constructed building across the parking lot from Scarborough Grounds and a new parking facility was added to the rear of the property.

Auglis said she would like to walk the site to see where the latest proposal’s parking, building and buffers would be located.

“If I can do a site walk, I’ll feel a whole lot better about this,” Auglis said. “The individual pieces are fine, but I want to make sure it comes together in a way I can understand.”

Fellows agreed a site walk would be helpful.

“It is one of those sites we think we are familiar with because we drive past it all the time, but when you really dig into it (a site walk could be helpful),” he said.

That site walk, Chace said, happened last week.

The applicant will be tweaking plans and appearing back before the board next month.

On Nov. 20, the board was set to hear Rosewood Land Development’s sketch plan proposal for Tucker Brook Subdivision located at 158 Payne Road; a request to constrict a Prompto Oil at 318 Route 1; a sketch plan proposed the CPRC Group for a six-lot subdivision at 70 Pleasant Hill Road; a site amendment by V&E Enterprises for building addition at 148 Pleasant Hill Road and Foley’s Fitness LLC’s latest plan to build a gymnasium at 33 Haigis Parkway.

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

Return to top