The first major Haigis Parkway project, anchored by the huge sporting goods store Cabela’s, received preliminary approval from the Scarborough Planning Board Monday, despite growing concerns about the additional traffic it will bring.

The board granted New England Expedition, the Connecticut-based developers working with Cabela’s, the preliminary approval it needs to move on to the town council on Dec. 6. The $70 million project will need council approval on signage and contract zoning for the 130,000-square-foot store. Cabela’s will be almost six times the size of what is currently allowed in the Haigis Parkway zoning.

Though Payne Road residents attending the planning board’s public hearing said they supported the project, they were worried that increased traffic could ruin their neighborhood.

“I’m just as enthusiastic about the project coming to town as you are,” said Chris Griffith. “But I just don’t want my investment in Scarborough to be ruined.”

Though the project is referred to as a Haigis Parkway development, said Griffith, he said he sees at it is a Payne Road project, since one of the entrances is on Payne Road, which borders a large part of the development.

“I want to preserve our neighborhoods,” said Griffith. “This project is almost right, except for traffic. I think if we look at traffic a little more, we really can have a watershed project for Scarborough. It should come, but if we don’t do it right we’ll pay for it for the rest of our lives.”

Mary Sewall, also of Payne Road, agreed their road is already busy and more traffic could damage the neighborhood feel. “I’m also a firm believer of diverting as much traffic from the area as possible,” said Sewall.

Glenn Grant, who owns one of the lots in the development, said he thinks the majority of out-of-state traffic would most likely come from the Maine Turnpike and the Haigis Parkway. Local traffic currently using Payne Road to get to existing stores will continue to do so, he said.

“I don’t think we should pin it all on Cabela’s,” said Grant.

Board chairwoman Susan Auglis told developer Gene Beaudoin and his associates that while they received preliminary approval, their recently completed traffic study needs additional review before the board will grant final approval. Once the council is done with the contract zone, the board has the final say on the project. Auglis also asked that developers include Oak Hill in the study, due to heavy summer traffic in the area.

“You still have a long way to go,” said Auglis. “Traffic is one of those issues that will be on our list before final approval.”

“I’m glad to hear that the public shares my concern for Payne Road south,” said board member Michael Wood. “To me it still seems like a nice, secondary residential road. I would hate to see that change, and I don’t think the applicant wants to see that either.”

One way to help, said Wood, is to make sure signs point people to the Maine Turnpike, not local roads. Though he hopes Payne Road neighborhoods won’t be affected, he said, diverting all traffic onto the Haigis Parkway would only overload Dunstan Corner.

Board member Bill Shanahan was also concerned that increased traffic would ruin the southern section of the Payne Road. With some irony, he called the impact fees developers are required to pay for future road improvements “relocation fees.”

“Maybe the Payne Road residents want to go to Gorham, and we pay for that move,” he said.

“This is really a message for the council,” he added. “Residents move into a neighborhood with the expectation that retail will be limited to 20,000 square feet – and that’s a reasonable expectation – and here we are with 130,000 square feet.”

Payne Road resident Chris Griffith was concerned more traffic would ruin is neighborhood. Another Payne Road resident, Mary Sewall, was also worried that more traffic could hurt her neighborhood.Glenn Grant, a landowner with a lot that stands to be developed as a part of the Haigis Parkway project, said that all the traffic can’t be blamed on Cabela’s.

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