Thirty-two new units of affordable senior housing are coming to Damariscotta through plans to construct a new development joining the 24-unit Ledgewood Court complex on Piper Mill Road.
Following a quiet public hearing, the Damariscotta Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan on Monday, May 1 with conditions mostly focused on outdoor lighting restrictions. Construction is expected to begin next spring and be completed by the fall of 2025 at a projected cost of $8-10 million.
The new two-story building will be built on a 10.54-acre parcel now home to the 24-unit Ledgewood Courts affordable senior housing apartment complex. Developers plan to subdivide the parcel to create two lots with two owners; 6.59 of those acres will house the new building.
According to the project application, filed by Portland-based DC Ledgewood LLC in partnership with Midcoast Maine Community Action, the development is expected to increase availability of affordable senior housing in the county and provide property tax revenue to the town.
DC Ledgewood is a subsidiary of Developers Collaborative, which manages housing units in southern Maine. Meg Robinson, a project manager for Developers Collaborative, presented to the board about the development’s goal.
Robinson said that, in 2020, 60% of Lincoln County households were unable to afford the median price of a home. Federal affordable housing requirements set maximum rent at 30% of a tenant’s income, which is determined using an area’s median income
The development is designed to help “cost-burdened” seniors age in place, she said.
Using 2022 data, that means $906 per month including utilities, according to Robinson. The number could rise by the development’s anticipated opening date in mid to late 2025.
Using the town’s current mil rate of $15.90, the application estimates the development could generate between $100,000 and $150,000 in tax revenue annually.
The location and use of the project is in line with the town’s comprehensive plan, developers said, which guides expansion in certain areas of the town and prioritizes an increase in housing stock.
Two members of the public attended the hearing and spoke in favor of the project, citing a need for affordable housing in the area and the new development’s unobtrusive location close to town.
Steve Bushey, of Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers in South Portland, presented building plans adjusted following planning board feedback at a pre-application review in April.
The 12,820-square-foot new development, designed by Winton Scott Architects, of Portland, features 16-one bedroom units ranging in size from 578 to 635 square feet on each of its two stories.
The plans include a community room and outdoor patio downstairs, lounge area and back deck on the upper floor, on-site laundry facilities, and a community garden with raised beds.
The second parcel of 3.95 acres will contain the existing one-story complex built 20 years ago, which consists of four separate six-unit buildings.
Midcoast Maine Community Action retains ownership of that lot. DC Ledgewood has a sales and purchase agreement in place to take ownership of the new subdivision.
The former will manage both complexes from one office in the existing complex, developers said Monday.
Bushey said the development site is served by existing public infrastructure, including sewer and water, and the building will be buffered from neighboring properties and the road by existing tree growth.
Board discussion centered on outdoor lighting intensity in the development’s parking lot, for which developers had requested a waiver.
According to acting Town Planner Michael Martone, Damariscotta’s land use ordinance sets an outdoor parking lot lighting maximum of one foot candle, which is a unit of light intensity. The project design has a maximum of 2.3 foot candles, with an average of 1.2 across the space.
Martone said a technical assistance bulletin from the former state planning office sets a maximum of two foot candles for low-traffic parking lots.
Bushey said it would be technically impossible to design a parking lot using the light thresholds set by the ordinance.
Board members discussed finding a balance between light pollution concerns and the safety of senior residents. Ultimately, a condition of approval was added that all exterior lights will be dimmed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Waivers were approved for several dimensional items. Sidewalks will be 6 feet rather than 8 feet. Bushey said this size is standard for residential projects.
Bollards outside the building will be 42 inches rather than 36 inches, a waiver request Bushey attributed to manufacturer availability.
Other conditions of approval included letters of approval from outside organizations, replacing landscaping within a set time frame of 30 days or within season, and installing and maintaining crosswalks on Piper Mill Road.
“I think we covered it well. I’m certainly comfortable with it,” board Chair Jonathon Eaton said of the application before board members voted unanimously to approve it.
The Damariscotta Planning Board will next meet at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 5 in the town office and online.