Running Hill Road-area residents continued to raise concerns about proposed zoning changes that would encourage commercial development and essentially ban new residences along roughly one mile of Running Hill Road on the Scarborough-South Portland line.

The changes are in accordance with the town’s comprehensive plan, which envisions a more gradual transition from highly commercial South Portland to the rural, wooded atmosphere along most of Running Hill Road in Scarborough.

The Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee brought forth several proposed changes at an Aug. 20 Town Council public hearing that committee members hoped would address residents’ concerns. However, some residents accused the town of secrecy and withholding documents.

At the request of residents and Council Chairman Jeffrey Messer, the council continued the public hearing to its next meeting on Sept. 3.

The Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee has suggested softening its initial recommendations to allow more flexibility in commercial building heights, and also to recognize existing homes as “conforming” to zoning – a technicality that would ease the process should homeowners wish to improve or add on to their residences.

But residents said they were still skeptical about the changes, and upset that they were unable to review minutes of a Planning Board meeting that were available to town councilors.

According to Town Manager Ron Owens, several documents usually available on the town’s Web site, including the agenda for the Aug. 20 meeting, were unavailable because the Web site has been revamped and some aspects of the site aren’t yet working properly,

“I have no information,” said Running Hill Road resident Harry White. “How can we comment on something we don’t know anything about?”

He said he was upset that the Town Council had copies of Planning Board recommendations regarding the proposed zoning changes that were not yet available to the public.

Resident Martin Feeney said he likes his property’s current rural designation and does not want to see it included in the new business zone.

“I like the freedom it gives me,” he said. “And it’s a shame to see Scarborough farmland deteriorate, even in small amounts.”

Ron Aubrey, a 50-year resident of Scarborough, said councilors need to keep in mind that people live and have lived – in some cases for 80 years or more – along the country road where council is envisioning businesses, offices and parking lots.

“If you’re going to develop that area, you’re going to have to build a highway,” he said.

Representatives of the Scarborough Community Chamber and Scarborough Economic Development Corp. spoke in favor of the changes.

“Scarborough is in the unique position of being proactive rather than reactive,” said Harvey Rosenfeld, SEDCO executive director, calling the proposed changes “cohesive and thoughtful.”

Kevin Freeman of the Scarborough Community Chamber of Commerce agreed.

“There has been a lot of effort made to try to find an appropriate compromise between people are con this change and pro,” he said.

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