Cape Elizabeth planners OK Maxwell Woods development

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Planning Board on Tuesday approved the final major subdivision plan for Maxwell Woods.

The development will include 38 residential condominium units – including two low-income affordable housing units – and eight apartments in two buildings, constructed on nearly 18 acres of land located on Spurwink Avenue. 

The total cost of the project is estimated to be just over $1.3 million.

The board gave the project preliminary approval in January. In June, the Town Council granted developer Joel FitzPatrick conditional approval of the plan and on Sept. 19 the board deemed his application complete.

An extension of Aster Lane to Spurwink Avenue will create a second means of access to the neighborhoods. The area is accessible only from Stephenson Street, and the extension will serve as the point of access to the property for construction vehicles. 

On Tuesday, FitzPatrick’s attorney Lee Lowry said the first step of the project would be building the extension. 

The board’s final approval was unanimous, but contingent on a few conditions, such as providing a financial guarantee to all on-site improvements, confirmation that the Aster Lane extension is constructed first, and providing any easements and deeds to the town attorney and manager. 

About 8.5 of the development’s 18 acres will be preserved as open space – two of which will be preserved as farmland by William and Lois Bamford, owners of Maxwell Farm. The 2 acres immediately abut land they currently farm.

The Town Council approved an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance on Aug. 14 that clarified the definition of land that may be preserved for agriculture as part of an open-space development. 

The amendment states that agricultural land preserved as open space in a development must meet the requirements of “farmland” as it is defined in the state’s Farm and Open Space Tax Law. However, the land to be preserved under this subsection can be less than 5 acres and deemed “farmland” if it is part of a parcel of farmland that is at least 5 acres.

On Tuesday, residents urged the board to consider leaving the 2 acres as open space, accessible to the public, rather than preserving it as farmland.

Mitchell Road resident Becky Fernald said the land doesn’t appear to be suitable for farming. 

“I really believe that in this development the majority of open space that’s designated is not considered a natural, undeveloped space for land,” she said. “Most of the land is being transformed from a forest … into lawn area.”

Larry Stern of Columbus Road added that he supports local farmers, but thinks the town “need(s) to weigh the advantage to (the Bamfords) against the potential advantage to the community to have the land as real open space with public access.”

Lowry said the Bamfords planned to use the 2 acres to store farming equipment. 

“I don’t think many farms would survive if they didn’t have ancillary (spaces) to support their equipment and their buildings … and they probably wouldn’t want to use prime farmland for those functions and that’s what’s taking place here,” he said. “The land here clearly meets the definition of agricultural use.” 

Town Planner Maureen O’Meara added that the particular piece of property had been tilled in the recent past and if it ceases to be used as agricultural land for three years, the town can take it for open space.

O’Meara will review outstanding conditions of the final plan approval once completed, after which FitzPatrick can begin construction.

“There is a demand for this type of housing … that is one bonus brought to (town), more than just tax dollars,” said Planning Board member Victoria Volent. “I think that when it’s all said and done, (the development) will be attractive.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

The Cape Elizabeth Planning Board granted developer Joel FitzPatrick final subdivision plan approval for Maxwell Woods on Oct. 17. The development will include 38 residential condominium units that will look much like this one at his Cottage Brook development.

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