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Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland finalizing plan for affordable neighborhood in Scarborough

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Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland finalizing plan for affordable neighborhood in Scarborough

SCARBOROUGH — In what would be its largest project to date, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland is in the final planning stages for a 13-home, affordable neighborhood on Broadturn Road.

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity, the local affiliate of the international low-income housing provider, outlined plans for the Planning Board on April 22.

The project comes on the heels of an eight-unit condominium development the agency is constructing in Freeport, and represents a significant departure from the group's traditional practice of building homes one at a time.

Plans for this development have been in the works for several years. Senior Town Planner Jay Chace said the 5.5-acre parcel at 75 Broadturn, next to the Maine Turnpike, has been owned by the town since 2006, with the expressed desire to use it for housing for low- to moderate-income families. 

Jim Fisher, president of Northeast Civil Solutions engineers, presented nearly final sketches to the board.

Fisher said homes in the looped street would be capped at $190,000, and that it is possible some would sell for less. Median home value in Scarborough is around $300,000.

"It’s a wonderful project to provide affordable housing to a residential community into which a lot of people would like to move and can’t," Fisher said. "It comes down to the old analogy that a fireman could come to the fire faster if he lived in the community in which he worked." 

The plans presented Tuesday reflect a reduction in the original number of homes suggested for the development, which was 17 to 24 units and included duplexes. The current proposal is 13 single-family homes, something Primeau and Fisher said is important both to the future homeowners and nearby residents, who in the past expressed concerns about the project.

"We believe the dream of home ownership is more powerful as a family home," Development Associate for Habitat for Humanity Mark Primeau said. 

The presentation was largely an opportunity for Planning Board members to raise concerns, of which there were few, and to work out kinks before Habitat for Humanity offers a formal plan for approval sometime this summer. Construction could begin early next year.  

In the 27 years that Habitat for Humanity has built homes with the help of volunteers in greater Portland, Primeau said, it has constructed 60 homes, and on average builds two homes a year.

He hopes that, with the help of a growing volunteer base and municipal participation, bigger projects like these will boost the group's productivity to an average of four homes a year.

Primeau urged potential homeowners to call the organization and attend an outreach session. 

Shelby Carignan can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or scarignan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @shelbycarignan.