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Cumberland council OKs contract zoning for affordable housing projects

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Cumberland council OKs contract zoning for affordable housing projects

CUMBERLAND — The Town Council approved contract zone agreements Monday for two affordable housing projects in the western part of town.

The Planning Board recommended approval of both requests, which would create 34 single-family homes in separate projects on Route 100. The properties are across the street from each other, between Mill and Wilson roads and in the Village Office Commercial 1 Zone.

The Town Council voted 5-1, with Councilor Steve Moriarty opposed and Councilor George Turner abstaining, for North Yarmouth-based Walnut Hill Investments' contract zone request for one project, on nearly 17 acres owned by Doris Wilson. Wilson would retain one lot on the property, with 17 new homes to be built.

The council later voted 4-1, with Moriarty again opposed and both Turner and Councilor Ron Copp abstaining, in support of Telos Capital of Portland's request to build on a 10.4-acre parcel owned by Elvin Copp. The Planning Board had approved a business park about five years ago on the property eyed by Telos, but the project failed to materialize.

Both properties have been under contract to be sold.

Copp abstained from voting because he is related to Elvin Copp. Turner has been the real estate broker for both properties.

Explaining his opposition, Moriarty said he sees the two projects as "simply too much concentrated development in one area, too quickly, in an area that right now would not allow development of this type.

"... I therefore I do not believe that had we approached this from a more thorough land use planning perspective, that we would have arrived at a position whereby these two parcels were singled out for development of this type, this scale, this density, and so forth," he said.

The homes would cost between $175,000 and $225,000, in a town where the median price of a home is $350,000. The lot sizes would be at least 20,000 square feet. Town Manager Bill Shane has said 20,000 square feet is the minimum lot size allowed under the state plumbing code, and that the lots would be served by public water, but not by a public sewer system.

The developers needed contract zoning for two reasons: VOC 1 does not allow single-family homes, although it does permit multiplexes, and the minimum lot size is 40,000 square feet, about double what the developers sought.

One stipulation in both agreements is that the develeopers and property owners will make every effort to create and preserve pedestrian and snowmobile easements on the properties.

The projects could go before the Planning Board for site plan reviews in October. Greater details of both projects are expected at that time.

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