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Affordable housing projects considered in Cumberland

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Affordable housing projects considered in Cumberland

CUMBERLAND — The town is deciding whether to allow two affordable housing developments along Route 100.

After an executive session May 14, the Town Council unanimously authorized Town Manager Bill Shane to develop contract zone agreements with companies that each want to build 17 to 20 single-family homes on properties in West Cumberland.

Both properties are between Mill and Wilson roads and in the Village Office Commercial Zone. A neighborhood meeting on the projects will be held at Town Hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 6.

The Town Council will later send the proposals to the Planning Board, which will hold a public hearing and make a recommendation on the contract zone agreements for the council to consider.

The Planning Board previously approved a business park on one of the properties, a 10.4-acre parcel owned by Elvin Copp, about five years ago, Shane said last week. But the project failed to materialize.

"We have tried unsuccessfully for five years to ... attract different businesses out into that corridor," Shane said, noting that there has been more success with smaller businesses elsewhere on Route 100, but not the office commercial types the town was seeking.

The town consequently discussed a different approach with Copp and Doris Wilson, who owns the other nearly 17-acre property, aimed toward addressing Cumberland's need for affordable housing.

"Basically, we said, 'well, if we're going to do housing, let's look at affordable housing, so that we could maybe get some housing stock in the community that kids coming back to the community or people just starting out could actually afford,'" Shane said.

Both properties are under contract to be sold – Copp's to Telos Capital of Portland, and Wilson's to Walnut Hill Investments of North Yarmouth, Shane said.

Single-family homes are not allowed in the Village Office Commercial Zone, but the council's ultimate approval of contract zones would permit the housing; the approval would also allow more density than the zone allows.

The lots would each be about 20,000 square feet, with conventional septic systems, and would be serviced by public water, Shane said. According to preliminary numbers, the houses would sell for $175,000 to $225,000 and be between 1,400 and 1,700 square feet, he said.

The median price of a home in Cumberland is $350,000.

To be eligible for one of the homes, Shane said, total annual household income of the buyers must not exceed $101,220, which is 140 percent of the greater Portland area median income.

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