SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Town Council granted unanimous preliminary approval Thursday to an application from Piper Shores requesting an amendment to its contract zone.

The request to alter zoning limits would allow the 138-acre oceanfront property to provide 28 assisted-living units in addition to its existing 160 apartments and 40 independent living cottages.

Efforts to amend the existing contract zone, which was established in 1997, are being made in response to a growing number of patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia and limited resources, CEO James Adamowicz told the council in mid-September.

In a Dec. 10 letter to the council, Adamowicz restated the retirement community’s need:

“Piper Shores has endeavored to be a leading life care community, offering residents an independent lifestyle, a comfortable, secure environment with an oceanfront setting, a friendly community of like-minded neighbors. … In the near term, there is a real need for the addition of memory care units for those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.”

Representatives from Piper Shores approached the council in September, requesting an amendment to the contract zone with preliminary plans to provide up to 52 units.

But the council only heard and initially approved the first phase of the proposed amendment, which would allow for the addition of 28 new assisted living units: 12 memory-care units and 16 apartments.

Phase 2 of the amendment proposal, if it is presented to the council and planning board in upcoming months, likely will receive more resistance because it would require building on a conservation easement.

“It remains to be seen if they’re going to come back with new units,” Town Manager Tom Hall said of the second phase.

The latest proposal is expected to be vetted by the planning board in January and returned to the council for final approval sometime in late January or early February.