James Bruni returned home to Maine from Vermont, where he had been helping with Hurricane Irene cleanup, to find several pieces of mail from the town of Gorham.

They were notifying him of proposed zone changes that would allow commercial development near his property on County Road.

In total, 10 property owners in South Gorham have recently asked the town for separate but similar contract zones that would allow restaurants, retail stores, banks and other businesses in an area that’s now mostly house lots and farmland.

Last month, the Town Council approved Hans Hansen’s request to change the zoning on his 24-acre parcel. Applications from five other property owners are under review by the Planning Board.

On Tuesday, the council will consider four more requests for Planning Board review, including one from Bruni.

“If all my neighbors were clamoring for it,” Bruni said, he figured he might as well join them.

The town has envisioned the development of a village center in South Gorham at least since the creation of its latest comprehensive plan in 1993.

But, in the last 10 years, two proposals to rezone the area were rejected — one by the council and the other by voters.

Now it’s happening parcel by parcel.

On the same night that Hansen’s contract zone was approved, the council directed its Ordinance Committee to start discussing a new zone for South Gorham.

Zoning administrator David Galbraith said that zone could encompass the 3-mile County Road corridor, from the border of Scarborough to the Buxton line.

Or it could be limited to a half-mile radius around the intersection of County Road and South Street, also known as Routes 22 and 114.

Regardless, Galbraith said, it will be a while — possibly a year — before anything is in place.

Meanwhile, the more cumbersome process of reviewing the parcels one by one will continue.

Noah Miner, who lost his seat on the council in last Tuesday’s election, favored a zone change for the area but was critical of continuing with the piecemeal approach.

“It’s a lot more work,” he said.

Miner said it was appropriate to rezone Hansen’s property and those next door, but believes the contract zones should have stopped there.

Of the nine properties under consideration for contract zones, five abut Hansen’s land, and four are across the street. One — a 5-acre lot owned by Chandler and Christine Bearce — is a half-mile down County Road toward Scarborough.

Galbraith said that parcel, which is being considered along with Bruni’s land at the 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday, could give the council pause.

If approved, it would significantly enlarge the area in which contract zones are being considered. And, Galbraith said, he wouldn’t be surprised if more come forward in the near future.

“I think as people learn what’s going on, we may have some additional interest in it,” he said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]ressherald.com