Cumberland council to see Drowne Road development plan

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CUMBERLAND — A master development plan for the Drowne Road revitalization project is due before the Town Council by Feb. 14.

The council on Monday unanimously authorized Town Manager Bill Shane to develop letters of intent for the “sale, lease or transfer” of the town-owned Doane Property – as well as the Public Works facility and the closed Drowne Road School – and to have him work with Bateman Partners to produce a master development plan for the area.

In the meantime, the Town Council and Planning Board plan to hold a workshop Thursday, Jan. 6, to discuss the project. The meeting, open to the public, will be held at Town Hall at 6 p.m.

The Drowne Road project is being proposed by Portland-based Bateman in multiple phases, beginning with construction of about 50 single-family and duplex homes on the approximately 40-acre Doane Property in the center of town.

If the Planning Board and Maine Department of Environmental Protection approve the first phase, Bateman will buy the property from the town for its 2008 assessed value of $425,000.

Later phases, if approved by the town, would include relocation of the Public Works and school bus facilities now northeast of the Doane Property. In their place would be built six single-family and 12 duplex homes, as well as a nearly 43,000-square-foot mixed-use building that would contain 20 residential rental units and 14,300 square feet of office or retail space.

The 17,600-square-foot Drowne Road School is proposed to become a senior housing/community center, and a four-acre town-owned parcel to the north of the Doane Property is being eyed for recreational uses.

“I really feel that at this point in time, we’re prepared to move forward with a project that I think will be both exciting for this community and of great benefit to the people that live here,” David Bateman said.

Shane said the complete project could create costs for the town of nearly $47,000. These include street lights, fire hydrants, road paving and other capital improvements, and Public Works costs such as the cleaning of catch basins.

Shane estimated that 50 new students could be introduced to SAD 51 as a result of the new housing, but he noted that excess capacity and declining enrollments makes the impact from the population increase minimal.

He said Cumberland’s increasing valuation and declining student population are raising the per-capita cost of education. But bringing families into Cumberland and increasing the student population could offset that increase, Shane noted.

Fifty new students could create $360,000 in new revenue for SAD 51, of which Cumberland would see about 70 percent, or $252,000, Shane said. He explained that annual revenue from full build-out of the Drowne Road revitalization project could be $482,000.

In the expenditures category, relocation of the Public Works and school bus facilities could cost nearly $3 million, or $222,000 annually for 20 years at 4 percent interest.

Shane presented different levels of build-out for the project, but he encouraged the Town Council to consider full build-out.

“I’m very excited about this project,” he said. “I think it’s going to be an awesome project for the community.”

Councilor Jeff Porter noted that all the council was doing is giving Shane the OK to move forward with the project, and that it would be important for the council to learn more specific details.

“We’re not committing ourselves to a single thing other than to move forward,” and to get more of those details,” Councilor Steve Moriarty added. “… We just continue to march.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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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.