The trustees of the Mary McIntire Davis Trust have an agreement to purchase property on Donica Road for a second entrance into their York Village property and intend to appear before the Planning Board next month once again with its plans for a condominium development there.
When they come before the board Oct. 12, it will be the trustees’ third appearance to discuss plans to develop the 100-acre parcel that fronts York Street and is one of the last large undeveloped parcels in the village.
In the previous two iterations before the Planning Board, only one entrance onto York Street was planned. The board made clear that was a nonstarter after hearing from numerous residents. Citizens said York Street is already dangerous and clogged with traffic and they also were concerned for the safety of children walking on the sidewalk to nearby Village Elementary School.
Now, however, the trustees have a second means of egress.
“We’re trying to be good neighbors,” Mal Davis, son of the late Mary McIntire Davis and a trustee of the trust, said. “We’ve listened very hard to the Planning Board and to the planning director, and we’re trying to do what they have asked us to do.”
Thomas Greer of Pinkham and Greer Consulting Engineers in Portland said the proposal calls for 119 condo units to be built on roughly 30 percent to 40 percent of the land — less than the 124 units initially proposed but more than the 50 units proposed when the trustees returned with a scaled-back project to accommodate the one York Street entrance. He said the units would probably be phased in over time.
Since they were last before the board in May, the trustees have entered into a purchase and sale agreement with resident Clayton Abbott for land on Donica Road. “He’s given us a fair amount of time to get our approvals for the project,” Greer said.
The Davis family would like to see the land developed as an over-55 community, but family members are in discussions with the town about whether there should be age restrictions. Regardless, Greer feels comfortable this is a project that should make it through the planning process. “It’s in the growth area of town, where development ought to occur, and it has access to public utilities.”
Town Planner Dylan Smith agrees with Greer’s assessment. “It’s in the growth area. It’s ripe for development. I understand it’s been vacant and people are used to what they know,” he said. “With more people coming into the area, you want to shape development. You don’t want to say, ‘No, all development is bad.’ There’s no doubt this is not going to be easy. People are used to having a very big back yard there. We can work to try to minimize the impacts. But in the end, we can only go by zoning ordinances and state regulations. It’s pretty black and white.”
Davis said the family has already paid for a new traffic study that takes into consideration the second egress onto Donica Road, which Smith said is going to be a key requirement, along with a stormwater study.
“We’ve tried to dot our i’s and cross our t’s,” Davis said. “We’re trying to abide by the codes and do everything by the books. We’re trying to develop a high-quality project that could fit in very nicely with the village.”
Previous Planning Board hearings drew crowds of people and that is likely to be repeated Oct. 12 and going forward. Among them will be Diane Bright of Donica Road, who along with a group of York Street abutters has been vocal about her concerns.
“My concern has always been about the children,” she said. “My daughter and her friends ride scooters and bikes up and down Donica Road and will be riding to the middle school this year. I’m really worried about the increase in traffic.”
She will be vigilant, but she is also aware that while “I would like to see the woods remain as is, I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Still, she said, “that is the last piece of wilderness in the downtown area, and once it’s taken away, it’s not coming back.”