Cumberland council sends Route 1 project to Planning Board

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Monday unanimously sent proposed changes to a U.S. Route 1 housing development to the Planning Board for a recommendation.

David Chase’s proposed amendments to a contract zone on his Foreside Village project will go to the board next month. The council could make a final decision on Chase’s request in late February or early March, Town Manager Bill Shane told the council Monday.

Chase hopes this year to complete a complex of 45 single-family homes as part of his development. Also underway just to the north is his 96-unit apartment project in eight buildings that could also be ready for occupancy this year.

To the south of those two projects, Chase had hoped to build an additional 40 homes on a site originally intended for commercial development. But to do that, the contract zone on the property had to be amended to increase a cap on the number of homes.

The housing expansion sparked concerns from several residents at a neighborhood meeting last month about the traffic impact on U.S. Route 1. Chase has since then withdrawn his request for additional housing.

As part of the contract zone amendment, Chase had also requested that Lot 9, an undeveloped parcel on the property, be removed from the contract zone envelope and revert to its underlying Office Commercial South zoning. Doing so would reduce the front setback along U.S. Route 1 from 50 to 25 feet.

But Chase now asks that the lot remain in the contract zone, but with setbacks consistent with what the Planning Board had originally approved before the lot became part of the contract zone agreement, and then became subject to stricter standards.

A final element of the contract zone amendment would eliminate from the plan a trail that was to be built on a buffer between the development and Interstate 295.

That “became unnecessary when sidewalks were built internally in the subdivision, and we didn’t want to impact any of the additional buffer along the top of the banking,” Shane said.

A 6-foot-wide gravel trail would instead run along the part of the project governed by the contract zone agreement, and be placed between 25 feet of the property and 25 feet of the U.S. Route 1 right of way.

The contract zone first started in 2002, “and is here on its sixth or seventh amendment now,” Shane said.

Bill Stiles echoed concerns of fellow Councilor Shirley Storey-King about buffering between the development and Middle Road, which sits across I-295 from the project.

“I was under the impression, when this all came to pass, that all of these buildings would be screened so that we wouldn’t be able to see them,” Stiles said. “… I would like to suggest that we insist that he put some more buffer trees in there, some evergreens or something like that.”

The town plans to request that Chase plant adequately-sized trees to replace those that have come down during the project.

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

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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.