2014-04-18 / Front Page

Proposal would bring Habitat homes to Cumberland County

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


The Habitat for Humanity affordable housing project, a 13-unit development that will be located on Broadturn Road between Saratoga Lane and the overpass of the Maine Turnpike, will be presented to the Planning Board next week for its first official review. (Michael Kelley photo) The Habitat for Humanity affordable housing project, a 13-unit development that will be located on Broadturn Road between Saratoga Lane and the overpass of the Maine Turnpike, will be presented to the Planning Board next week for its first official review. (Michael Kelley photo) An affordable housing project that has been years in the works will be unveiled next week, marking its first official review before town officials.

On Tuesday, April 22, the Planning Board will review a site plan for the Habitat for Humanity project on Broadturn Road. A site plan review is the first step in the Planning Board’s process and gives the applicant an idea how to improve the plan to better meet town standards.

The plan calls for 13 homes to be built on 5.5 acres between the Maine Turnpike and Saratoga Lane and includes a centrally located parcel of open space that could be used for community gardens or gathering space.

“We have had three or four neighborhood meetings over the last two years and we have revised the project. We feel this is the best project we can put forth,” said Mark Primeau, a development associate with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland.

The project is a joint effort between Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland, the town of Scarborough and the Scarborough Housing Alliance.

“This will be a warm and inviting area because of the neighborhood feel,” said Rachel Sunnell, an architect with Gawron- Turgeon Architects, which has helped Habitat for Humanity and the town of Scarborough through the design process. “Every home will have a front porch that is close to the road and the sidewalks. There’s a lot of really nice aspects with this particular design.”

Originally a 17-unit subdivision of single family and multi-family homes was proposed. That changed earlier this year after Habitat for Humanity studied the marketability of each home style.

It became apparent to Habitat for Humanity, Sunnell said, that the organization would have a much easier time selling single-family homes.

“We feel single-family homes are a better product for homeownership than duplexes,” Primeau said.

Sunnell said despite the change, “The concept has remained the same. It is a village-style development with sidewalks and street trees. The lots are a little larger than they were with the 17-unit plan.”

The housing development would include a mixture of affordable housing and Habitat for Humanity housing in which the future homeowner has to help build other homes before they can move into theirs.

“We will offer three or four different home models for people to choose from so it looks like a nice planned community and the houses will look the same whether it is an affordable home or Habitat home,” said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland Executive Director Godfrey Wood.

Primeau said the housing options include a single-level layout, a three-bedroom layout and a four-bedroom layout.

“As the project progresses and is approved, when Habitat finds a potential buyer, they can find the best home that fits a particular lot,” Sunnell said. Lots range from 5,560 square feet and 12,000 square feet.

Because of the property’s close proximity to the Maine Turnpike and its associated noise and because the project is using federal community development block grant funding for sewer work, a sound study was conducted last fall. The study found that mitigation was needed for the noise from the vehicles on the turnpike. An 8-foot high, 300-foot-long wall will be erected along the western side of the property to block noise.

The wall, Wood said, will “get the levels down to where they need to be.”

The plan the Planning Board will be reviewing has had many iterations, Sunnell said.

“Through the process, we explored many different avenues, but we always came back to this one because it is a walkable, village-style neighborhood,” Sunnell said.

Wood said his organization, which has built close to 60 homes in the area, is in a good position to get started with the project once it gets approval from the Planning Board.

“The regulatory hurdles and town agreement are completed and the financing is all set to go and do this project,” Wood said.

The goal, Wood said, is to start the project in late summer or early fall with the construction of the road that would connect the development to Broadturn Road.

The Scarborough project, Wood said, would be Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland’s biggest undertaking and is one of the first times the organization has worked so closely with town officials to introduce housing to a community.

“This is new for us. We are doing an eight-unit project in Freeport. This would be a similar type of thing, but just on a larger scale.” Wood said.

After working on the concept for the Scarborough project for the last two years, Primeau said Habitat for Humanity is excited to see the project move along.

“We feel we are in a good spot and ready to move forward,” Primeau said.

The Planning Board meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

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