This computer screenshot of a 48-unit apartment building recently constructed by the John Flatley Company in Merrimack, N.H., is similar to one of the seven buildings proposed for a 56.7 acre lot in Saco off Lincoln and Bradley streets. Courtesy Image

SACO — Neighbors of a proposed 336-unit apartment complex off Lincoln and Bradley streets in Saco on land currently owned by the Lucinda Kimball Deering Trust will get another chance to ask questions at an online meeting with the developers on Thursday, Jan. 14.

Then, the Planning Board is expected to review the site inventory and analysis and Master Planned Development for the proposal at their Jan. 19 meeting.

The proposal for seven, 50-foot-tall buildings, each sporting 48 luxury apartments, is among 28 similar complexes the John Flatley Company of Canton, Massachusetts, has built so far, Flatley said at a recent online neighborhood meeting.

“We’re catering to 25- to 35-year-olds, and empty nesters who want to downsize,” Flatley said. The complex, called Charlotte Apartments, will include one- and two-bedroom units, along with clubhouses, swimming pool, electric vehicle charging stations, a solar powered trash compactor, community garden, and more.

He said 81 percent of the 56.7-acre property would remain as open space.

“One reason we like this site is it is close to downtown,” said Flatley.

Rents for the apartments are expected to range from $1,275 to $1,375 for the one-bedroom units; and $1,675 to $1,775 for the two-bedroom units. Pets will not be allowed, and there is no smoking on the property.

Neighbors have asked a number of questions since the project was first proposed earlier in 2020, including whether the area, made up of single-and two-family dwellings, is the right location for such a project.

The property is located in the MU-4 district, which allows developments like the one proposed under a Master Planned Development clause. It would be the first to use the Master Planned Development method since it was introduced about seven years ago, said City Planner Bob Hamblen.

A computer screenshot shows the site of a 336-unit apartment complex proposed in Saco by the John Flatley Company of Canton, Massachusetts. Courtesy Image

Saco City Council on Monday, Jan. 11, approved a new zoning ordinance for Saco, which was amended at the meeting to take effect in 90 days, rather than the usual 30 days. The new ordinance proposal, as recommended by the Planning Board, did not contain the MU-4 zone along with some other zones. The City Council initially voted to reinstate those zones at their Jan. 5 meeting, but upon advice of legal counsel, voted on Jan. 11 to refer those items back to the Planning Board for further review.

Entrance to the proposed project was initially on Lincoln Street but was changed to Bradley Street to accommodate concerns about traffic in the Lincoln Street neighborhood. Residents, however, said traffic will continue to be an issue. Neighbors said apartment dwellers will try to find ways to get from Bradley Street (Route 5) to North Street and the entrance to the Maine Turnpike as motorists already do, clogging residential streets.

“Come stand on our streets and watch how fast the traffic comes down here,” said a Franklin Street resident at the Jan. 7 neighborhood meeting. “My major concern is this will add traffic to get to the interstate if nothing else. What are your plans to help us?”

A representative said the Flatley company was willing to work with the neighborhood and the city to slow down traffic.

Other concerns were expressed.

John Flatley Company officials have said the neighbors won’t be able to see the buildings, but some aren’t so sure.

“What will the horizon look like in our neighborhood?” asked resident Jane Caron. “We have a nice neighborhood and this development seems to be out of character. I have a big concern about looking out and not seeing the trees and seeing the buildings.”

Another resident said the traffic will impact Garfield and Tasker streets and Shadagee Road.

A Bradley Street resident said he lives two driveways down from the proposed road to the development. “At times it takes 15 to 20 minutes to get to the turnpike,” he said and added, “and the structures don’t conform to the neighborhood.”

Kevin Walker of the John Flatley Company pointed out that under the zoning, an office building could be constructed.

“We are doing a fiscal impact report … the final report will show a fairly large benefit to the city of Saco,” he said.

According to the company, the development will add an estimated $754,800 annually in tax revenue to the city; $84,672 in vehicle excise tax revenue and $480,000 in city building permit fees. As well, there are police, fire and sewer impact fees, yet to be calculated. The project will generate about 150 construction jobs and 10 permanent jobs, company officials said.

Others pointed to what they described as the poor water pressure in the neighborhood.

As well, St. Demetrios Church is nearby, and church council spokesman Bill Zafirson, pointing out the land is wet in the area, asked how the developers will keep water from draining onto the church property.

Walker said the company is not permitted to have runoff onto another property; that it must be contained.

Company officials invited people to attend the next neighborhood meeting, set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14 on the Zoom platform. The meeting id is: 977 1363 5233; the password is: 488604.

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