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UMaine Foundation gives up on Falmouth property

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UMaine Foundation gives up on Falmouth property

FALMOUTH — A lavish mansion at 200 Woodville Road that once belonged to Shaw's Supermarkets heiress Mary Alice Davis, and now owned by the University of Maine Foundation, is for sale again.

The last owner, Eric Cianchette, donated the property to the foundation in December 2006, after purchasing it and 160 acres of adjoining land from Davis for $4.5 million in 2004. The donation, valued at $4.2 million, was the largest one-time gift the foundation had ever received from an individual or family.

But now the foundation has put the property up for sale after failing to reach an agreement with the town over approved uses.

Listed for just under $2.5 million, the 10,400-square-foot home built in 1993 has been getting "a fair amount of interest," according to broker Anne Bosworth of Legacy Properties Sotheby's International Realty in Portland.

"It's a fabulous house, very well built, an impeccable property," Bosworth said. "The location is spectacular with beautiful views."

Though the UMaine foundation had planned to use the property for functions and meetings, the house has not been used since its donation three years ago. Last summer, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted the foundation a conditional use permit to operate as a private club, which cleared the way for its use for school functions, pending a site plan review by the Planning Board.

According to Judy Round, senior assistant to Amos Orcutt, the foundation's president and chief executive, the decision to sell the mansion was difficult and was "due to continued expense and uncertainty of future use."

"The foundation and the Cianchettes had originally thought of it as a meeting place for alumni and friends, but due to the land use regulation and zoning, this type of use has not occurred," she said.

Orcutt did not return repeated phone calls.

But Falmouth Community Development Director Amanda Stearns said Tuesday that the foundation "got the use they wanted" – a private club – with the conditional use permit from the ZBA.

"The next step was the site plan approval, but they never filed," she said. "They took the position that our submission process was too onerous."

For a site plan review, the town requires the applicant to file a plan showing all improvements for use, including parking, lighting, landscaping, garbage disposal, ingress and egress, Stearns said. While the foundation did submit a basic parking layout, it did not submit any other required information.

"We certainly said if they wanted to file a written waiver request we would process the application," Stearns said. "But in the end, they just withdrew. We got a submittal that didn't meet minimum requirements."

Proceeds from the sale of the property will go to the University of Maine, Round said, adding it's unclear "how it will all work out."

"It was for the benefit of the University of Maine," she said of the decision to sell. "It's probably a good time to be benefiting the university."

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.