A Scarborough housing development that could eventually include more than 200 homes off Black Point Road and Old Eastern Road got preliminary approval from the town planning board Monday.

By incorporating a mix of housing types, open spaces, walkways and a small amount of retail space, the Eastern Village subdivision is being pitched as a neighborhood that would replicate communities of the past – ones that encouraged walking over driving and corner stores over supermarkets.

Much like Great American Neighborhood once proposed in Dunstan by John and Elliott Chamberlain, the new proposal from developer Kerry Anderson would bring a high density of housing to one of the town’s centers – Oak Hill.

Anderson would start with 152 homes, including 90 single-family homes, 34 townhouses and 28 apartments, on a little more than 54 acres. However, the development could eventually include up to 203 homes.

The development is allowed to exceed the town’s density restrictions under the town’s Traditional Neighborhood Development ordinance, which requires things like narrow roadways, a grid-like structure and open spaces.

Joe Laverriere, senior engineer from DeLuca Hoffman Associates, presented the project to the board, introducing the development to new board members and reacquainting the rest who hadn’t seen it since the fall.

Though the board members sent Laverriere away with several issues that will need to be addressed, they also gave positive feedback about what they saw.

“The town has been very supportive,” Laverriere said after the meeting. “The design is trying to be responsive to the town’s comprehensive plan.”

Assistant Town Planner Dan Bacon said in a post-meeting interview that the mixed housing required under the Traditional Neighborhood Development ordinance is attractive to the town.

“Scarborough’s real estate is becoming pretty expensive,” he said. “The town is interested in housing that different types of people can afford, like young professionals and retirees.”

Ten of the 152 units are designated as affordable housing. The project will be built out in eight phases, the time frame of which, Laverriere said, will be determined by the market. The affordable units will be incorporated among the different stages.

Laverriere said the development is not a traditional subdivision. Houses will be built close to the road, and driveways and garages will be accessible only through back alleys, so that there are no breaks in the sidewalk, creating a “continuous streetscape.”

Small open spaces will be located within a block or two of every home, and a larger open space will function as a “town center,” which will be conducive to outdoor activities. Five thousand square feet of land is designated for retail use, which Laverriere said might include a corner store or a bed and breakfast.

Board member Allen Paul was particularly supportive of the retail within the development. “I think we lost the idea of the small neighborhood market,” he said, recalling a time when being allowed to walk to the corner store to buy bread for the first time was a “rite of passage” for a child. “I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

The development is also designed to take advantage of the nearby Eastern Trail. Along with a naturally landscaped park, Laverriere said, there are plans to build a structure that would serve as an amenity to those using the trail, like bathrooms or a bike rental shop, which was encouraged by John Chamberlain, who is now a member of the Scarborough Planning Board. The plan also calls for a pond by the Eastern Trail.

The board expressed concerns about parking, drainage and aeration for a pond. They expect those concerns would be dealt with by the next time the development comes to the board. “We’re just throwing out a lot of questions that we don’t expect to be answered tonight,” Chairwoman Susan Auglis said.

Overall, the board was positive about Eastern Village coming to Scarborough.

“I like the project a lot,” Chamberlain said. “I think it’s a necessity in this town to have diversity.” Chamberlain was also supportive of its location. “It’s the perfect place to do what you want to do,” he said.

After the meeting, Anderson, the developer, said “proximity” was the project’s most valuable asset. “It’s right in the center of town, a beautiful piece of property,” he said.

Eastern Village will have to return to the planning board within a year to be considered for final approval, which Laverriere seemed confident about.

“This is what the town wants to see,” he said of the development.


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