SOUTH PORTLAND – The developer of a proposed market at Willard Square has withdrawn his site plan application, telling city officials that the financing has fallen through.

The news Thursday came just three days after the City Council gave preliminary approval to a 95-day emergency moratorium on development in the Willard Square village-commercial zone. The idea of a moratorium was prompted by neighbors who called on the city to implement design standards there before allowing construction.

Glenn Perry and business partner Ian Hayward submitted a site plan application May 2 for a small grocery on a Pillsbury Street lot owned by Perry. They initially called the store Mr. Delicious, but changed that to Ebo’s Market.

The application stirred up controversy in the neighborhood, which is a short walk from an elementary school and the popular Willard Beach. About 200 people signed a petition calling for a development moratorium, expressing concerns about traffic, parking and the impact on public safety.

It was not immediately clear whether the financing problems for Perry were related to the neighborhood dust-up, although Perry said at a recent council meeting that he could live with a limited moratorium. A call to Perry was not returned Thursday.

Perry said last week that he and Hayward already had spent $40,000 on preliminary work for the project — they had hoped the work would only cost them $25,000.

Councilor Maxine Beecher said the city needs to stick with its schedule and create design standards for the zone. Ideally, those standards would be ready for adoption by the council in August, Beecher said.

“We need to finish this job that didn’t get finished. It is not about that one business,” Beecher said, adding that she hopes Perry gets financing and brings the project back to life.

There are only two village-commercial zones in the city — at Willard Square and just to the west in the Knightville neighborhood. The idea of the zone is to promote a blend of residences and community-oriented businesses. The four businesses at Willard Square are Scratch Bakery, Willard Scoops ice cream shop, Bathra’s Market and Townsend Realty.

Unlike Knightville, design standards were never drafted and adopted for the square. Design standards cover such factors as scale, orientation and compatibility with the existing buildings.

The City Council on Monday passed a first reading for the construction moratorium. A public hearing before the Planning Board is set for Tuesday. Then the matter would go back to the council for a second and final vote on June 6.

Linda Sanborn, who has lived in the Willard Square neighborhood since 1971, learned Thursday that the Ebo’s Market site plan had been withdrawn. Sanborn said she hopes the city follows through with the moratorium and creation of design standards.

“We actually were mostly concerned with traffic and safety issues, and somewhere along the line, people misconstrued it,” Sanborn said. “It was never an attack on the owners of Ebo’s. It was about traffic and safety and we do want to work with the city on that.

“We want to have development,” she said. “But we want to have it in a way that maintains the quality of life in our neighborhood. It’s growing rapidly.”

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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