SCARBOROUGH, Maine — A proposed 40,000-square-foot office development on Foley Farm Road received praise Monday from Planning Board members, but may be challenged if it is approved.
Hannaford Bros. Co. is threatening to take the project to court if it receives site plan approval, according to a letter to the board from the company’s attorney, Scott Anderson.
A lawsuit appealing Planning Board approval of the project would have to be filed at Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland.
The proposed office complex would sit behind the Risbara Bros. construction offices at 197 U.S. Route 1. Foley Farm Road is adjacent to the Hannaford Bros. supermarket at the Oakhill Plaza Shopping Center and extends into a wooded area behind the store.
Citing a 25-year-old purchase option the company holds from the Foley family, Anderson said the project proposed by Risbara Family Development should not be approved because Risbara does not have clear title to Foley Farm Road.
“It is Hannaford’s intention to vigorously enforce its rights and to prevent or enjoin any violation of these rights,” Anderson wrote. “Risbara does not have, and cannot acquire without Hannaford’s consent, a sufficient interest in Foley Farm Road to implement its project.”
On Wednesday, Risbara attorney Lawrence Clough disputed the existence of the Hannaford option in a letter addressed to Anderson and submitted to the planning office.
Clough said Hannaford Bros. holds only a right of first refusal on the private road, while it does hold an option to buy other sections of the Foley property. Because the Foleys are granting an easement to the Risbaras and other potential developers on land north of the proposed office complex, there is no sale to contest, he said.
Clough also said a 1991 town subdivision plan for the Hannaford property clearly marks Foley Farm Road as a “private right of way.”
The development on two acres behind Risbara’s headquarters would link Little Dolphin Drive and Foley Farm Road by an access road serving as frontage for the proposed office complex. Construction plans call for a two-story, 20,000-square-foot office building and atrium, with a second office building of the same size to be completed as needed.
The complex would become headquarters to Town & Country Federal Credit Union, now on Hinckley Drive in South Portland.
Nancy St. Clair, of Cumberland-based St. Clair Associates, has developed the project with Risbara and estimated the second phase will be completed in five years.
The expanded Foley Farm Road and Little Dolphin Drive, and new access road, would be turned over to the town, pending Town Council approval.
Anderson said any attempt to turn Foley Farm Road over to the town “constitutes a ‘sale’ of a portion of the Foley property giving rise to the preemptive rights of Hannaford.”
The Planning Board gave preliminary approval Aug. 26, and needs only to approve the site plan for the project to move forward. The Risbaras also need a stormwater permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Anderson’s letter arrived mid-afternoon Monday, Assistant Town Planner Jay Chace said, so its contents, as well as environmental and traffic data, were received too late for board consideration that evening.
The letter urged the board not to approve the project without the DEP permit, and also questioned if a wider DEP site location permit is needed. Anderson also objected to Risbara’s plans for dealing with stormwater runoff.
“(They) will result in the unnatural accumulation of and discharge of stormwater runoff into the Foley Farm Road (right of way),” Anderson said.
Anderson also said the project lacks sufficient parking, and claimed studies by traffic engineer Bill Bray underestimated the project’s impact on nearby Hannaford Drive. He said congestion will be especially problematic in the afternoon, because there is no traffic light at the intersection of Little Dolphin Drive and U.S. Route 1, which will force traffic to Foley Farm Road, and eventually, Hannaford Drive.
“This will exacerbate delays on Hannaford Drive, and will further impact the long queues which are projected for Hannaford Drive, including car back-ups that will run past the intersection with Foley Farm Road,” Anderson said.
Clough’s letter did not respond to Anderson’s allegations about environmental and traffic impacts.
Traffic flow, meanwhile, drew the most concern during a review of preliminary sketch plans submitted for a proposed rock-climbing facility on Haigis Parkway.
The board took no action, but was receptive to the proposal by owner Taki Miyamoto.
Miyamoto and partners Freddie Wilkinson and Mark Richey want to build a 10,000-square-foot building for indoor climbing. Building heights would range from 21 feet to 44 feet, according to preliminary plans.
Miyamoto said he expects families, students and serious climbers to become customers.
Board members Nicholas McGee, John Dupont and Cory Fellows said the concept is exciting, but Board Chairman Allen Paul said the master plan will need more details about parking for 50 vehicles and pedestrian safety in the parking lot.