The town voted to remove zoning boundaries in relation to the old Public Safety Building that is for sale on 246 Route 1. Courtesy Town of Scarborough

SCARBOROUGH — On May 20, the Town Council voted 5-2 to approve the removal of zoning boundaries in relation to the old Public Safety Building that is for sale on 246 Route 1, in the Oak Hill area.

As staff have fully moved into the new public safety building that is next to Scarborough’s municipal building, discussion of the property’s use is beginning.

The town has been reviewing the old site that is for sale, finding a number of lots with split zone designation, which includes the old Public Safety Building, Jay Chace, town planner, said at the April 21 Planning Board meeting.

He told the Planning Board that a restaurant is planned for the former fire department portion of the building, but he is not sure yet what will go in the former police department side.

Members of the public had raised concerns to the Planning Board regarding heavier traffic flow that would affect their neighborhood.

Mike Violette, who lives on 8 Fairfield Road, said that he believes the town as a whole has let the area down.

“Anybody who lives in this neighborhood or drives through Oak Hill down Route 1 knows there is no room for this,” he said.

According to the meeting minutes, Jennie Pillsbury of 13 Fairfield Road, said that she believes there are safety issues that would come from an increase in traffic, which is already difficult to navigate.

Kat Powers, of 10 Fairfield Road, said that she believed a potential commercial development in the area could lower her property value.

Two councilors voted no on the issue, Betsy Gleysteen and Peter Hayes, Gleysteen saying that she hopes future Town Councils will have more say in town properties.

“I think people are being impacted in a real way, not necessarily by the zone change but more by the action of what the town is doing and who we’re selling the property to and how we’re going to develop it,” Gleysteen said.

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina, who is also on the Long Range Planning Committee, said that she believed the process had been fully vetted.

“I do know as is usual you do have some people who don’t like change,” she said. “Change is hard, but I definitely feel this is the right move for the town and it’s not only because it is part of the sale of the Public Safety Building, but it’s also to bring our zoning maps into better compliance so that the boundaries make sense. They were a little out of whack up there on Route 1.”

Because the property is on Route 1, it probably would have been a commercial spot if it weren’t for the old Public Safety Building, said Councilor John Cloutier.

“I try to separate what we’re doing with zoning and the sale of the Public Safety Building,” he said. “This parcel belongs with the new zone. It makes more sense there than residential. If it had not been with the Public Safety Building, it would have been a commercial zone.”

Councilor Ken Johnson said that he believed concerns about traffic were legitimate, but he believed that with the loss of the Public Safety Building parking, there would also be less traffic, even with the soft plan of the restaurant.

“I walk through the public safety building every day and I count 40 to 45 cars there now that they moved in full time,” he said. “I made an actual assumption that at the old Public Safety Building that there should be same amount so if the units going in there are 24 units, I don’t know why there’s a perception of increased traffic when I’m looking at it as decreased traffic.”

Traffic from commuters is a big factor when looking at the area, said Town ManagerTom Hall.

“I fully appreciate the neighbor’s concerns about traffic,” he said. “It’s a preexisting problem whether the town’s Public Safety Building next door contributed. Undoubtedly, it did, but it’s been decades in the making. I think the larger problem is the commuting traffic that’s cutting through the neighborhood, starting somewhere else and going somewhere else. I personally have confidence that the Planning Board process takes a close look at traffic impacts.”

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