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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council on Dec. 11 is scheduled to consider a new tax increment financing district around two potential senior housing developments.
The council will also discuss adding a traffic signal at the intersection of Skillin Road with Gray Road (Route 100), and speed limit reductions on U.S. Route 1, Blackstrap Road and Blanchard Road Extension.
Cumberland’s TIF District No. 8, dubbed the Tuttle Road Development Project, would include projects on both sides of the road. On the northeastern side, across the street from Town Hall (290 Tuttle Road), are the Doane and Godsoe properties, where a senior housing development is proposed.
The developer of the OceanView at Falmouth retirement community proposes up to 50 cottage homes in the first of a two-phase project called OceanView at Cumberland.
OceanView, which has an option to purchase 41 acres from Richard Doane, would first develop 35 acres at the rear of the property. The second phase could comprise the nearby Godsoe Trust property, for which OceanView also holds an option, and which has frontage on Greely Road.
The second TIF project could be a senior development on a 32-acre piece of town land adjacent to Town Hall, on the southwestern side of Tuttle Road. The Town Council has considered a proposal from Developers Collaborative to build senior and family housing, with as many as 100 one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
Town Manager Bill Shane in an interview Nov. 30 called the proposal that town staff is presenting to the Town Council “kind of a compromise.” Only the front half of the town-owned property would be developed, and the back would be left in a “wait-and-see mode” while the best use is determined, the manager said.
Nonetheless, 55 percent of the 85 residents who participated in an Oct. 25 straw poll opposed development of the property, saying the land should be retained for a future, undecided use, or preserved as open space.
The Conservation Commission has recommended developing the front half, with the back retained as open space, Shane said, although he noted, “I don’t think the council’s purpose for purchasing that property was ever open space; it was really for development purposes, whether it be senior or multi-generational, or some combination.”
The development would absorb some of the people on the waiting list at Cumberland’s Hawthorne Court senior housing complex, he said.
That property, along with the Doane and Godsoe parcels, “will hopefully be a successful piece of our senior housing overlay,” which would create housing for people 55 and older, with market rate offerings by Oceanview and affordable options on the town-owned piece, Shane said.
The town piece could comprise a building of 36 single-bedrooms apartments sized between 650-800 square feet, as well as duplexes for both rent (about $1,300-1,400 monthly) and purchase (about $275,000), Shane said.
The proposal will likely go to the Town Council next month, when it could authorize Shane to sign an agreement with Developers Collaborative. The Planning Board would then consider the development.
Even though the Godsoe portion of the Oceanview project is out on the horizon, “we’re going to put it in the TIF district in anticipation that that does go through,” Shane said, noting the town can amend the district if that phase does not reach fruition.
Through that TIF district, “we’ll be able to use credit enhancement agreements for commercial purposes,” such as infrastructure, and support services for senior operations, Shane said.
The Town Council on Dec. 11 will also consider amending TIF District No. 1, which includes more than 100 acres of the Twin Brook Recreation Area. Twin Brook is comprised of non-taxable open space, not conducive to economic development. The panel will consider shrinking that district to 9 acres, containing just two buildings and a field built when TIF 1 was originally established.
Town officials in recent years have asked the Maine Department of Transportation to consider installing a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 100 with Skillin and Blackstrap roads – a safety upgrade from the blinking light currently there.
“It’s a very busy area of town, traffic has increased dramatically, and what has increased even more so is the heavier truck traffic,” Shane said, noting that the 40-45 mph speed limits create greater stopping distances.
“Even though there are good sight distances, when you’re carrying that much weight in a dump truck or an 18-wheeler, it requires a long distance to stop,” the manager said. “We’ve had some very serious accidents at that intersection.”
With an eye toward safety as well, the Town Council plans to ask DOT to consider speed limit reductions on U.S. Route 1 (from 45-50 down to 35-40 mph), Blackstrap Road (40 down to 35 mph), and Blanchard Road Extension (an un-posted dead-end street, proposed to be 25 mph).
Public hearings on both the speed limit changes and traffic signal will be held as part of the Town Council’s Dec. 11 meeting, which starts at Town Hall at 7 p.m.
Installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Gray Road (Route 100) with Skillin and Blackstrap roads, goes before the Cumberland Town Council Monday, Dec. 11.