RUMFORD – For seven generations, David Glover Sr.’s family has lived in the rural area of Black Mountain and Isthmus Road.
A planned 305-unit development in his neighborhood could force property values up, he believes.
“It could drive us off our land,” he said Wednesday night at a Planning Board hearing on the project proposed by businessman Lem Cissel.
“People who live up there don’t want this in their backyard,” said his son, David Jr., who also lives in the neighborhood.
Others believe the project will be a huge step forward for the economic and population growth of the area.
“I live up there, too. But times are changing,” said Tina Sirois.
Chelsea Paterson, a senior at Mountain Valley High School, said the project could help retain the area’s young people.
“Things like this will keep people in Maine, keep us here and help the economy. It’s something that will make students want to come back,” she said.
Cissel bought 460 acres off Isthmus Road about two years ago. The property, largely wooded, is virtually in the shadow of Black Mountain of Maine.
He plans to build or have built a mix of housing that could attract young families and people who want second homes.
Proposed are 145 units of multi-family housing, 23 units of clustered single family homes on shared land, 20 single family homes on quarter-acre parcels, and 109 single family homes on parcels ranging up to four or five acres and perhaps more.
Bob Berry of Main-Land Development Consultants Inc. of Livermore Falls is the project engineer.
Names chosen for the streets in the development reflect the skiing history of Black Mountain such as Rumford’s four Olympians, Broomhall, Chenard, Pidacks and Miller. All of the homes would have some view, said Berry.
Bob Nisbet, a resident of Isthmus Road who said three generations of his family have lived in the area, supported the plan.
“Anyone with the enthusiasm to do something should do it,” he said. “I’m impressed as hell and appreciate that this is going on.”
Roland Milligan Jr., another Isthmus Road resident, had other concerns.
He questioned the impact on town services as well as the effects the sale of up-scale homes would have on the existing housing stock for sale in the community.
Craig Zurhorst, an employee of Black Mountain and a real estate agent, said the two housing types would likely attract different markets.
“We will be attracting a mix of people,” he said.
With Wednesday’s public hearing completed, Planning Board member Brad Adley said he expects final approval to be granted by August.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is conducting its permitting process simultaneously, said Adley, and should complete its documentation at about the same time as the Planning Board acts on the proposal.
If approved, Cissel said he expects to begin work on the roads next spring. He expects to build at least the first few houses, and possibly all of them. Either way, he said he would have control over the building types and would establish a homeowners’ covenant.
The plan is to complete the build-out within five years or so.