Cumberland council OKs land sale, contract zone for Route 1 development

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday approved a contract zone agreement and land sale for a proposed housing development along U.S. Route 1.

Developer David Chase – who has had difficulty selling the property for commercial use, and now wants to carve the land into smaller pieces suitable for housing – has sought a reduction in the minimum lot size the contract zone agreement allows, from 7,500 square feet to 5,000. Doing so would require amendments to the side, rear and front setbacks, according to Town Manager Bill Shane.

The Planning Board on Jan. 20 unanimously recommended the council approve the contract zone, Shane said Monday. The council OK’d the measure 6-0; Councilor Shirley Storey-King – an abutter who said Tuesday she was unsettled by the number of changes already made to that contract zone – abstained.

Chase is allowed to build residential housing through his existing agreement, but he now wants to build nearly 50 single-family homes, and four apartment buildings with a total of 32-40 units, Shane said earlier this month.

The homes – to be built along a stretch of about 1,200 feet of land between Route 1 and Interstate 295 – would be sold at market rate, around $299,000 to $350,000. The apartments would rent for about $1,500 a month, Shane said.

The Town Council previously discussed the matter last month.

The council on Monday also unanimously approved the $310,000 sale to Chase of a town-owned lot on Route 1, next to Seafax. About two-thirds of the roughly eight-acre parcel is wetlands, while the rest might be suitable for development, Shane said.

The sale price matched the value of the property as determined by a recent independent appraisal.

The lot will give the development a designated entrance from Route 1, and create a buffer between the residential area and nearby commercial properties.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.