SCARBOROUGH — Maine Eye Center hopes to relocate to a 40,000-square-foot facility it wants to build along the Interstate 295 connector where it feeds into Route 1.

The project would require a zoning change because the wooded 6-acre site, located across Route 1 from the Maine Medical Center campus, is now part of a residential district. A proposal before the Town Council would add the property to the zoning district on the opposite side of Route 1, which was created to draw bioscience and biomedical businesses.

Representatives of Maine Eye Center presented the plan Tuesday at a meeting organized by the Scarborough Economic Development Corp. The event drew about 30 people, primarily neighbors concerned because the property serves as a buffer between them and Route 1.

Maine Eye Center needs a more efficient space than its current building on Lowell Street in Portland, said CEO Richard McArdle. The practice searched for a suitable site for two years before the state Department of Transportation offered this parcel for sale. The property is now under contract.

“It’s our intention to be good neighbors to our future neighbors,” McArdle said.

The proposal calls for a two-story building on the eastern part of the property, parking to the west and an entrance from Greenacres Lane.

The building would have a 30,000-square-foot first story and 10,000-square-foot second story. Construction would take place on three acres, with a wooded section remaining along Elmwood Avenue.

Neighbors said they were concerned about several issues, including traffic, noise, light pollution and further encroachment by businesses — a hospice, an animal hospital and a car dealership are already nearby.

“We’re getting hemmed in,” said Mike Silvius. “It’s quality of life. It’s the value of my property.”

Some wondered whether a contract zone – a tailor-made agreement with the town – might offer more protection for residents.

“If it’s going to be changed, how can we have the most impact on that change?” Chris Caiazzo asked.

Councilor Judith Roy, herself an abutter, predicted that it wouldn’t take long for the property to sell if the Maine Eye Center project falls through.

“Is the next offer going to be better? I don’t know that,” she said.

Roy, who attended the presentation, said she was leaning toward rezoning the property for bioscience and biomedical uses, which she believes would be better than allowing more homes to be built. She said she wasn’t opposed to a contract zone.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]