Though a group of Running Hill Road residents came out in opposition of developing their neighborhood, town officials assured them that any significant changes were a while off.

On Dec. 19, the Scarborough Town Council gave final approval to a moratorium on a proposed subdivision development in the area so that the town can reconcile the zoning with the vision outlined in the comprehensive plan.

According to Town Planner Dan Bacon, the plan to create an urban feel to the area is different from anything Scarborough has seen before. He said the plan would create a transition into the town from the city of South Portland. By not allowing big-box stores, there would be a distinction between the development in the town and the city.

A few residents who came to the meeting said they were frustrated that they were left out of the plans.

“We’d just like to know what’s going on,” said Running Hill Road resident Jeff Libby.

Libby said the neighbors who showed up to the meeting have owned property in Running Hill for as long as 70 years.

“We’ve watched the mall grow,” he said. “It wasn’t there one time. It grew to us.”

Officials assured the neighbors that they would be involved in the process once it got going, and that approving the moratorium wasn’t a step toward development, but a tool to allow the town to study the area.

“There’ll be plenty of opportunity for public vetting,” said Council Chairman Jeff Messer.

Town Manager Ron Owens said he expects a lot of pressure to develop that area, and the moratorium would give the town a chance to plan how to react to any proposals that are made.

Owens suggested the neighbors read the comprehensive plan to see what is envisioned for the area.

Harry White, of Running Hill Road, said he was familiar with the comprehensive plan, and even attended meetings when it was being formed – though, he said, all of his suggestions were “soundly defeated.” White said he would like to participate in this part of the process, as well, and suggested the town hold neighborhood meetings.

“They’re asking an awful lot of this area,” he said.

Denis Dinsmore said he had living on Running Hill Road for 30 years, and his in-laws haf for 65.

“I’m very against any kind of rezoning,” he said. “It feels like the town wants to take it by eminent domain, but they’re coming in the back door and pushing us out the front.”

Messer said he would vote in favor of the moratorium, but that would be no indication of how he would vote on developing the area in the future.

“I’m clearly on the fence for any proposal that comes forward,” he said.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the moratorium.

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