A Scarborough dotted with village centers featuring common areas and clustered housing strolled closer to reality last week.

The Scarborough Town Council on March 4 unanimously voted to rezone the Sawyer Road, Gorham Road and Eight Corners areas to create a greater neighborhood feel with higher-density residential areas.

Previously the areas were zoned B-2, allowing for retail business and service establishments of virtually any size. The new zoning, recommended by the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee, changed the areas to TVC3, which allows for retail sales and services up to 1,000 square feet and does not allow businesses to have drive-throughs.

Just outside these areas on Payne Road is the Scarborough Gallery, which is home to large retailers such as Lowe’s and Wal-Mart.

“This is moving Scarborough in the right direction,” said Town Planner Dan Bacon. “It makes sense to have these areas have a greater neighborhood feel instead of having everything in town spread out.”

The changes will allow Scarborough to monitor the growth of commercial business and create reasonable transitions of development between large commercial areas and residential areas, said Harvey Rosenfeld, executive director of the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation.

“The committee was trying to accommodate everyone in that area,” Rosenfeld said. “This will keep development well controlled without imposing on these areas, such as Eight Corners, but still allow for significant commercial development.”

Not everyone agreed with SEDCO’s view. Dave Darling, who owns land at 38 and 40 Mussey Road, and Darling’s Bunk Beds on 220 Gorham Road, previously said the zoning changes would hinder growth for his company. His three parcels are within the Sawyer Road and Gorham Road areas.

The changes won’t affect every business in the area, said Bob Skoczenski, controller for Trico Mechanical on Mussey Road, because the new zoning grandfathers in existing businesses.

However, those businesses would need to conform to the new regulations if they wanted to expand, which Skoczenski said is a moot point for Trico. “We’re at about 5,000 square feet, and we can’t really get much bigger,” he told the Current in January.

The Comprehensive Plan Committee has been working on zoning changes throughout Scarborough for the past two years, Town Manger Tom Hall said. The town charged the committee with aligning the town’s zoning to fit in with the comprehensive plan.

The changes, which allow four “dwelling units” per acre, will encourage wider ranges of housing choices, Bacon said.

“We want to create a village center around these areas,” Hall said. “Right now the zoning doesn’t match the comprehensive plan, and we want to create higher-density residential areas.”

Scarborough had two lightly attended neighborhood meetings late last year discussing the proposed zoning changes. According to town officials, Darling was the only person to publicly oppose the changes.

The rezoning will help in developing commercial areas mixed with residential areas without a lot of traffic impact, Hall said.


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