Cumberland development could add 45 homes, 32 apartments along Route 1

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CUMBERLAND — Faced with difficulty selling his U.S. Route 1 property for commercial use, a developer now wants to carve the land into smaller pieces suitable for housing.

The Town Council on Monday forwarded to the Planning Board an amendment to a contract zone agreement the town has with developer David Chase.

Chase is seeking a reduction in the minimum lot size the contract zone agreement allows, from 7,500 square feet to 5,000. “That would require amendments to the side, rear and front setbacks,” Town Manager Bill Shane said.

The existing agreement allows residential housing, but Chase now wants to build 45 single-family homes, as well as four apartment buildings with a total of 32 units, according to Shane and Tom Grier, an engineer hired by Chase.

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, the manager said.

The Planning Board may first hear the matter next month, and send a recommendation back to the Town Council for final consideration.

The access road to the development would be across from the True Spring Farm condominiums, Grier told the council.

Tom Foley, of the True Spring Farm Condominium Association, asked if the added traffic from the development would trigger the threshold for a traffic light to be installed at the Route 1 intersection.

A traffic study has not yet been conducted, but the development’s full build-out will likely come close to reaching that threshold, “which means you aren’t going to see a traffic light there until there are actual trips (generated),” Grier said, noting that the study would come through the Planning Board’s review.

“I believe we will be very close to triggering a (Maine Department of Transportation) traffic movement permit,” Grier said.

Asked by Councilor Mike Edes why the development was being proposed as residential, as opposed to the originally-planned commercial, Grier noted that Chase “has spent more than the last five years trying to market this as best he can to commercial pieces. We’ve had several people step forward and start their review of the site … and have had a hard time getting sales to go forth on commercial pieces.”

Exactitude and Seafax are two examples of Chase’s earlier success at attracting commercial development to his lots, the engineer pointed out.

“This seems to be a pretty sweet spot in the overall market (for) workforce housing,” Grier said.

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.