WESTBROOK — A proposed zoning change would allow more affordable housing on Lincoln Street while protecting open space.

According to City Planner Jennie Franceschi, the proposed rezoning concerns the area around 58 Lincoln St., including the area of a hockey rink and the former RiverMeadow Golf Course.

“We really feel the overlay provides that protection for the neighborhood,” Franceschi said.

Current zoning designates the area as rural. Officials believe that designation has prevented growth in an area where the city wants housing within walking distance to the downtown.

Franceschi said that the rural designation is incorrect, given that a rural zone shouldn’t have amenities like sidewalks and sewers.

The city council will vote on the zoning change Nov. 16.

“This sets more stringent restrictions than (before), with requirements for open space, affordable housing, and keeping higher density projects further from the road,” Franceschi said.

At least 10% of the housing built in the area will be designated as affordable, Franceschi said, and restrictions would apply to all developers for at least 30 years.

Architectural firm Gorrill Palmer wants to build a mix of single-family homes and duplexes and are in talks with Westbrook Housing to add two 30-unit senior housing facilities. In total, the area could fit 140 housing units, but any discussions about site plans or specifics would come after rezoning, Franceschi said.

Franceschi said the developers are talking with Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to create open space opportunities. Those plans are still in the very early stages.

The change was workshopped by the City Council Monday, Oct. 26.

“This is a good project for Westbrook and we are a growing city,” Economic Development Coordinator Dan Stevenson said. “It is not just straight up taxable industrial land. It is also about housing. Our workforce is a problem and will be in the future too. We need a next-gen workforce. We need kids.”

“The bottom line is we have companies seeking and need a workforce and many people want to live in the community where they work,” he said.

No residents turned out to give input on Oct. 26. Ward 1 Councilor David Morse said there needs to be more public outreach going into the next meeting.

“We should really go above and beyond the requirements to ensure there is as much com involvement as possible,” Morse. “There is an interpretation of dwindling (participation) in Planning Board meetings (about this) means people do not mind (the overlay), but we should not jump to that conclusion.”



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