A proposed residential subdivision that triggered a citywide zoning referendum in Portland is moving forward, despite a pending lawsuit against the city.

The Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously approved over 120 units of housing on 55 acres at 1700 Westbrook St. known as Camelot Farm. The approvals for “Stroudwater Preserve” include a subdivision plan for 98 single-family homes, as well as site plan approval for 25 townhouses near Interstate 95.

Developer Michael Barton said he hopes to break ground on the project this spring.

“Our excitement is getting greater by the day because we’re able to provide an alternative housing product and create this quality outdoor space in this area of the city,” Barton said.

The first phase would include building the road and 52 single-family homes in former pasture land that up until last fall was used for grazing cattle. Barton said it would take a couple years to finish that part of the project, but he expected construction on the townhouses to begin in 2018.

The project, especially a zone change granted in July by a 5-4 vote by the City Council, faced stiff opposition from neighbors, who drafted a citizens initiative that would have given them a better chance at blocking the project. But the measure was defeated in November.

The zone change allowed the developers to build more units on the site, closer together. That allowed developers to preserve 24 acres of open space along the Stroudwater River that will be accessible to the public and potentially add to the city’s network of walking trails. A community garden and ice skating pond are part of the project, Barton said.

Neighbors are still fighting the project, though. They filed a lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court earlier this fall challenging the city’s decision rezone the land, but the case was recently moved to Sagadahoc County Superior Court.

Mary Davis, an attorney who was part of the group that proposed the city referendum and filed the lawsuit against the developer, declined to comment on Thursday.

Jason G. Howe, an attorney representing the developers, said that his client was not named in the lawsuit and has since asked to intervene. Although they are still waiting for a judge to rule on that request and the case itself, Howe said his client is comfortable that the city’s rezoning decision was done appropriately, so they are proceeding with their development.

“We usually see that as a delay tactic in hopes of killing the deal, but with us, that’s not a concern,” Howe said. “We’re very comfortable with our position once we’re allowed as defendants.”

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

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