Lem Cissel says

this is the biggest risk he’s ever taken.

RUMFORD – Lem Cissel announced Tuesday that he has bought 460 acres off Isthmus Road and plans to develop a 200-plus lot housing development and a retirement facility.

Cissel, a businessman from Maryland who recently purchased the former True Value store on Canal Street and Au Jewelers on Congress Street, is currently having engineering work conducted at the site previously owned by Eugene Caton.

He said he isn’t ready to provide specifics just yet, but did say it’s the biggest risk he has ever taken. He said he has developed 27- and 36-lot subdivisions in his home state, and developed a successful landscaping business in the same area.

“I’ll need the cooperation of the town,” he said, adding that he had been looking for a land tract in western Maine for quite sometime. He has tentatively named the proposed subdivision Scottybrook, after a stream that runs through and near the property.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim Thibodeau said Cissel’s plan fits right into the municipality’s long-range plans for getting federal grant money for the expansion of water and sewer lines extended to several areas in the town.

The Isthmus Road property abuts the Black Mountain of Maine Ski Resort that was sold last week to the Maine Winter Sports Center. Cissel said his project has no connection to the expansion project at the mountain.

Thibodeau said Cissel’s plans fit well with the town’s plan to increase its tax base, improve housing and, in turn, draw people and jobs to the area.

“We’ll work well together,” he said.

It will be a while before anything is solid.

Cissel plans to supply the infrastructure and subdivide the property into one- to two-acre house lots. He said he has a prospect for the development of an assisted living center at the same site. Engineers are currently surveying the property, identifying wetlands and conducting water percolation tests.

“It’s a very positive thing. One of the most positive things that has happened in 20 years,” Thibodeau said.

Once the engineering work is done, plans will go before the Rumford Planning Board for its review. In the meantime, the town is waiting for word from a consulting firm it hired last year on how much federal money might be available for extending sewer and possibly water lines to that property as well as to other neighborhoods scattered around the town.

Town Manager Robert Welch said he may know by the end of May. The town’s sewer lines end about 1 mile short of the two access points to Cissel’s property.

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