Two 12-unit apartment buildings at 216 East Main St. in Yarmouth could be available for occupancy next spring. Contributed

The developer of two proposed apartment buildings at Route 1 and East Main Street in Yarmouth has received preliminary approval for the project from the town planning board.

LWS Development of Portland will go ahead with plans for Sweetser Village Apartments at 216 E. Main St., two three-story buildings with a total of 24 apartments. Developer Paul Peck hopes to receive final planning board approval this summer for the 11,500-square-feet buildings and have them available for occupancy next spring, he said.

The site is between East Main Street to the east and the Cumberland County Federal Credit Union on Route 1 to the west. Behind it, to the northwest, is Sweetser Road, a residential cul-de-sac, and a day care center.

The planning board voted 4-1 for the preliminary approval June 23, with member Wendi Holden voting against it, citing traffic concerns at the proposed access road of East Main Street as well as the buildings’ appearance.

“I think there needs to be something that alerts drivers that a number of cars are coming out of here,” Holden said.

She said she’d prefer the buildings, which she described as “boxes,” “to be more compatible with our town.”

The single access to the apartments is at the site of what is now a driveway to a two-family home at the east end of the LWS property. The developer had proposed an additional access way off Sweetser Road, but that was tossed out after residents objected.

Board member Andrew Bertocci was also concerned about traffic on East Main Street.

A proposed view from Route 1 of the apartments at 216 East Main St. in Yarmouth. Contributed / LWS Development

“People coming east toward the entrance will be waiting to turn for a very long time,” he said.

Resident Susan Prescott said the property has a “terrible site line” because it is up a 20-foot slope and above Route 1, and the project doesn’t offer enough pedestrian access.

Peck said pedestrians will be able to access the site from Route 1 east and west of the property and from the north via Rogers Road, but direct access down the slope to Route 1 won’t be available.

“The steep slope along Route 1, ADA requirements and the fact we do not own the slope make it very difficult to build a stairway or ramp,” Peck said.

Peck said he will allocate funds to improve the crosswalk on East Main Street  that connects to the Beth Condon Memorial Parkway.

The Sweetser Village Apartments would be built up and to the right of Route 1, facing south. Kristen McNerney / The Forecaster

To address the project’s appearance from Route 1, Peck said the buildings will be rotated from the original plan so balconies and patios face the main thoroughfare. Landscaping is also planned along the site line facing Route 1.

“What we want is for Route 1 to be an inviting place,” Chairwoman Judy Colby George said.

Resident Mary Williamson said she wants noise and light coming from the apartments to be buffered, some of the units to be set aside as affordable housing and the developer to maximize environmental benefits.

The project is not receiving any low-income tax credits, Peck said, but the units will not have high-end rents. Current plans call for heat pumps and solar panels with no use of fossil fuel, and two of the 42 parking spaces will have chargers for electric cars.

Resident Zoe Rockwood said she wasn’t sure how the community would benefit from the project, and was wary of supporting “24 homes who are not paying taxes.”

Half of the apartments will have one bedroom and the other half two bedrooms. The first-floor apartments will be accessible to people with disabilities and mobility issues, Peck said.

Sweetser Village Apartments will be ready for occupancy in Spring 2022.

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