SOUTH PORTLAND — By a 4-3 vote, the Planning Board decided late Tuesday night to recommend a three-month moratorium on new construction at Willard Square.

Last week, the City Council passed a first reading of the moratorium, then asked the Planning Board for its recommendation on whether to proceed. The issue is expected to go back to the council for a final vote June 6.

Councilor Maxine Beecher proposed the moratorium earlier this month, after hearing from a group of residents who were concerned about the plan for a new market in Willard Square.

Glenn Perry and his business partner, Ian Hayward, wanted to build “Ebo’s Market” next to an apartment building owned by Perry, across the square from Scratch Bakery and the recently reopened Bathras Market.

Perry, a wine salesman, and Hayward, a cook, worked together for several years at Rosemont Market and Bakery in Yarmouth.

Perry and Hayward researched the Willard Square village commercial zone and were encouraged by city planners, who told them that their concept fit with the zoning.

Adopted in 2006, the zoning calls for as many as 10 neighborhood-friendly businesses to complement the homes around the square. The four businesses now in Willard Square are Scratch Bakery, the Willard Scoops ice cream shop, Bathras Market and Townsend Realty.

Neighbors expressed several concerns about the project, from its impact on traffic to the opinion that Willard Square is too small for two markets. That led to a broader discussion between neighbors and city officials about the future of the square and potential changes to the zoning.

Neighbors asked the council for a building moratorium to give the city time to set design standards for the zone — which were never adopted — and to examine the issues of traffic and parking.

After the first council vote on the moratorium last week, Perry’s lenders backed out on the project. He said he had already cashed in a portion of his retirement savings and spent $55,000 on a site plan and other preliminary work for Ebo’s Market.

On Tuesday night, 10 residents spoke in favor of the moratorium.

“It’s maxed out for the design it has,” Chris Trout said of parking and traffic in the square. “Now’s the time to be thoughtful about it and just take a breather, so that this becomes a lovely business district that matches the neighborhood it sits in.”

Sherry Wolfe of Fern Lane spoke against the moratorium. She said neighbors have exaggerated the concerns about traffic and parking.

“This moratorium is wrong. It’s saying that South Portland doesn’t promote small businesses,” Wolfe said. “(Perry and Hayward) went by the rules, and they got shot down.”

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: [email protected]