Cumberland council sets hearings on Route 1 development

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council voted unanimously Monday to hold hearings Jan. 26 on 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 – is seeking 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, Town Manager Bill Shane has said.

The Planning Board is expected to discuss the matter Jan. 20, and send a recommendation back to the Town Council for final consideration. If the panel tables the matter, the council will do so as well.

Chase’s existing agreement allows residential housing, but he now wants to build nearly 50 single-family homes, and four apartment buildings with a total of 32-40 units, Shane said last week.

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 other council public hearing on Jan. 26 involves the sale to Chase of a town-owned lot on Route 1, next to Seafax. About two-thirds of the roughly 8-acre parcel is wetlands, while the rest might be suitable for development, Shane said.

An independent appraisal of the lot may be complete before Jan. 26; if not, the public hearing will be postponed.

The council will decide whether to accept the appraisal or negotiate a different price, Shane said, explaining that since properties in the area have typically sold for about $100,000 per developable acre, the lot could be worth around $250,000 to $350,000.

The lot would 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 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.