SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Ordinance Committee agreed that an in-depth discussion with local developers and the school district would be beneficial to the growth management conversation.

The committee met via Zoom to discuss the Growth Management Ordinance on Oct. 22.

Adopted in 2003 and last amended in 2017, Scarborough’s Growth Management Ordinance was put into place with the purpose of pacing the rate of housing construction but also providing for immediate housing needs; ensure fairness allocation of building permits; and to plan for the town’s continued residential population growth, said Jay Chace, director of planning and code enforcement.

From 1996 to 2002, the town saw rapid single-family housing growth of over 1,000 homes, placing a burden on school facilities, particularly the middle and high school, Chace said. Municipal services also felt the weight of the population’s growth.

The committee focused on the town’s introduction of fractionalizing units, implemented in 2009, and the increase of the growth permit reserve pool, which the town, Chace said, increased from 215 permits to 500 in 2017.

Fractionalization occurs when a unit that could be counted as half a dwelling unit for density purposes requires half a permit, according to the ordinance.

In public comments, Rocco Risbara of Crossroads Holding, the developer of the Downs, said that fractionalization is important, noting that one-to-two-bedroom multi-family units are a better model than single-family.

“It’s trying to direct growth into units that’s a better return of investment for the Town of Scarborough,” he said.

Multi-family housing units has been a “game changer,” said Town Manager Thomas Hall. The development of multi-family houses compare to single-family is much faster.

There needs to be a distinction in the difference between promoting growth and managing growth, Councilor Ken Jennings said.

“I think we can all agree we have difference of opinions on growth and development,” he said. “It’s a big topic — but we have definitely moved from managing our growth to promoting our growth, and there’s definitely a difference.”

The ordinance needs to be more understandable for everyone, including future Town Council members, Jennings said.

“It’s the fractionalization that makes things even more confusing,” he said.

In future discussions, the committee agreed that it would like to have a workshop with developers in town, Councilor and Chair Jean-Marie Caterina said.

“If we’re going to do that, I’d like to get as many developers in town as possible,” she said.

Jennings said that developers would be able to bring forward questions, a three-to-five year plan, and past experiences with growth permits. School officials’ opinions would also be beneficial for future discussions, he said.

A statement referencing growth is important for the town comprehensive plan as well, said Councilor Don Hamill. The town needs to be careful about what kind of statement it makes.

“Somewhere along the way we made a strategic decision. We stepped on the accelerator and said we need more and different types of housing,” he said.

In October, town staff received enrollment data from the entire school district and will be analyzing the data through the end of the calendar year, Chace said, and how that effects growth.

“There were some assumptions made going into that 2017 decision by council to increase the reserve pool,” he said. “We want to ground-truth those.”

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