WESTBROOK — The Planning Board has approved Westbrook Housing’s Harnois Apartments, a two-phase, 91-unit development for senior citizens on a fixed income.

The apartments are the second phase of Larrabee Heights and will be located near it on Liza Harmon Drive, along with Westbrook Housing’s other properties, Larabee Village, Larrabee Woods and the soon-to-be-completed Larrabee Commons.

The plan had the clear support of Planning Board members Rebecca Dillon, Rene Daniel and alternate Kim Fickett, but Chairman Ed Reidman was on the fence.

Because the project was proposed for a zone where multifamily housing is a conditional use, it needed four yes votes to pass, as required by the city charter. Board members Dennis Isherwood, Joe Marden, Robin Tannenbaum and John Turcotte were absent.

Reidman had said he was not intending to approve the plan, but changed his mind after Ethan Boxer-Macomber of Anew Development, a firm helping with the project’s permitting, said the deadline to apply for low-income tax credits is coming up next month.

Not having the board’s approval would jeopardize the project’s standing to obtain those tax credits, Boxer-Macomber said. If the project had to go back before the board for approval later, the opportunity would be missed, he said.

“Failing to get your vote tonight, the project won’t happen for a year, if at all,” he said.

Reidman joined Dillon, Daniel and Fickett in approving the project.

Boxer-Macomber said the first phase of the two-building development will include 61 units that will offer individuals 62 and older “a nice, relaxing setting, yet we are a quarter-mile from many amenities like doctors, banks, retail and recreational opportunities.”

The second building, 30 units for those 55 and older, will be built in the subsequent phase. The site will be accessed via a new private way that will connect to the road that wraps around Larrabee Heights.

Darren Stairs, of Stantec, said the new housing will have a walking trail to the left of the property and an 8,000-square-foot sitting area by the parking lot for lawn games and picnicking. Directional signs will be placed throughout the property.

Tony Muench, a landscape architect in Portland, said the entryway will have nonfruit bearing crabapple trees and evergreen screening on the sides of the property to serve as buffers for neighboring parcels.

Carol Hayden, a resident of Larrabee Heights, said she was concerned about how the new development might impact her building and the residents who like to walk around the property.

A number of sidewalk improvement will be made through the project with the overall goal, as Westbrook Housing Director Chris LaRoche said, of making the area “a walkable campus”

The new development maxes out the development potential on the site and a special waiver was needed for Westbrook Housing’s new development. The land use ordinance defines unusable land as land that, among other things, has a slope greater than 25 percent. The board voted 3-1 to issue the waiver, with Reidman opposed.

Reidman said his concern wasn’t so much about the Westbrook Housing proposal, but rather the board’s decision setting a precedent.

“My concern is when someone else comes along,” he said.

Michael Kelley can be contacted at 781-3661 x 125 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mkelleynews

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