WESTBROOK — The second phase of the Blue Spruce Farm housing development would add more than 240 market-rate apartments to the city’s housing stock, increase enrollment in the Westbrook school system and boost the city’s population by 800 to 900 residents when fully built, according to its developer.

Residents who attended a meeting on the development Wednesday said they’re concerned the two-phase project, which calls for about 500 new residences in all, would put further stress on Westbrook’s already crowded schools, increase traffic and cause other problems in the city of almost 18,000.

“It’s going to a gigantic strain on city services,” resident Bryan Bozsik predicted. “These two phases could represent 10 percent of Westbrook’s population.”

More than 85 people, most of whom live in surrounding neighborhoods, attended the meeting at Husson University’s campus in Westbrook.

Neighbors said the 42-acre project, which would be built off Spring Street on the banks of the Stroudwater River, has too many apartments and not enough single-family homes. Some said they were not happy with the plan to make Prospect Street, currently a dead end, a through street to access the development.

A study conducted for developer Risbara Properties LLC estimates that phase one and two combined would add up to 66 new students to city schools.


Risbara is scheduled to present its latest sketch plan to the Westbrook Planning Board on Aug. 2, said Nancy J. St. Clair, whose firm St. Clair Associates is the project’s consulting engineer for phase two. St. Clair said the developer is still in the early stages of getting the permits needed from local and state agencies.

“This is going to be a very detailed and lengthy review process,” she told the audience. “A lot of agencies are going to be looking at this project.”

Phase one of Blue Spruce Farm, which consisted of nearly 200 housing units, was approved in 2015 and has nearly sold out just a year after the Westbrook Planning Board approved the $30 million project. Adding another 300 housing units would make Blue Spruce Farm one of the largest residential developments in southern Maine.

It would dwarf Dunstan Crossing, the planned Scarborough neighborhood with more than 250 homes, and be larger than the proposed mixed-use “midtown” development featuring 440 market-rate apartments in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood.

The success of phase one prompted Risbara Bros. to purchase 42 adjacent acres for a second phase. President Rocco Risbara III said Wednesday’s neighborhood meeting was required by the city’s Planning Board and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Risbara said phase two would include a mix of 13 single-family homes (five homes could become duplexes), 242 apartments and 40 condominiums, as well as a 6,000-square-foot mixed-use commercial development that would likely feature a drive-through coffee shop – not affiliated with a national chain – plus a hair salon, sandwich shop, and fitness center with apartments on the second floor.


The complex also would feature hiking trails along the Stroudwater River, a basketball court, a dog park and a 1.4-acre riverbank park that would be open to the public.

Risbara estimated that phase two would bring between 800 and 900 new residents to the city. He said he couldn’t say how many residents would be added by phase one, which is still under development.

Many residents wondered why Risbara chose to build more apartments than single-family homes. Homeowners are more responsible neighbors because they are invested in their properties, some said, but Risbara said building single-family homes is not an effective way to use a property that is zoned for high-density development.

“We are trying to maximize this site,” Risbara said. “And the most effective way to use this site is by building multifamily homes.”

Risbara said he is planning to build 20 apartment buildings in phase two, offering a range of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. None of the units is intended for low-income families or for subsidized housing. Most of the apartment buildings would be three stories.

“Vertical buildings like that belong in the downtown close to city services, not in a rural area like this,” said Terry Quinlan, a Middle Street resident.


Several residents said they were surprised that the Planning Board would allow the apartment buildings in their semi-rural neighborhood. One asked if the phase two buildings would resemble those in phase one.

“I was wondering if the apartment buildings in phase two would be like those in phase one, because they are hideous,” Brenda Emands said.

One controversial aspect of phase two was Risbara’s plan to convert Prospect Street into a through street. Under his proposal, drivers could access the project via Prospect Street, and in theory, drive all the way through the development to reach Spring Street. Neighbors said that would invite people to speed past their homes.

But Risbara said his team of consultants is already considering traffic-calming measures, such as placing raised tables along the street.

The Maine Department of Transportation must approve a traffic management plan for the project, but a traffic study likely won’t be ready until September.

“It’s only good planning,” Risbara said of the Prospect Street connection. He said firetrucks need an alternative route to enter the development, and having that type of connectivity would make it easier for trucks to plow the route.


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