An architectural drawing depicts the former Robinson woolen mill at 283 King St. in Oxford redeveloped into 80 apartments for seniors. The Caleb Group of Lynn, Massachusetts, bought the 5-acre property next to Thompson Lake on Nov. 9, 2023. Courtesy INVIVID Architecture

OXFORD — The Planning Board will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. March 13 on the proposed redevelopment of the former Robinson woolen mill after two residents objected to the location and size of the senior housing project at 283 King St.

The Caleb Group, a Massachusetts-based affordable housing developer, purchased the four-story brick mill next to Thompson Lake with the intent to build 77 one- and two-bedroom units.

Its acquisitions director, Suzanne Decavèle, unveiled the development during a Select Board meeting in November 2023 and came before the Planning Board on Jan. 11 to present an application.

Due to the town ordinance limiting multi-unit properties to 50, the board denied the application. The following month, The Caleb Group appeared before the Board of Appeals, which granted a variance to allow 80 units.

The Board of Appeals was expected to sign off on the variance.

On Feb. 22, Caleb Group representative Steve Bushey of Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers of South Portland attended a Planning Board meeting in anticipation of the variance being finalized and to answer questions on next steps.


At that meeting, King Street residents June Mosher and Sharon Jackson, who reside at 327 and 333 King St., respectively, shared their concerns and requested a public hearing before the housing project proceeds.

Jackson said she does not support the project as it has been presented.

“It’s right on the corner, right in the middle of the village,” she said. “There is a tremendous amount of traffic and lots of kids walking along that road. Ninety parking places for a complex with up to 80 units, in my opinion, is unacceptable.

“Number one,” she said, “if a couple lives in a unit, they need two parking spots. When The Caleb Group came to the board of selectmen, they said not everyone will have a vehicle. But I don’t want King Street to become a parking space with cars on both sides of the street.

“There would be at least 80 additional people living in that small village area,” Jackson said. “It will impact the number of people going to the beach, the number of people out walking in the community. It’s too much congestion.”

Mosher said that while her spouse is on the Planning Board and Jackson is a selectman, most of the town does not know much about the redevelopment and need the opportunity to learn more and provide their perspectives.


Decavèle, who attended the meeting virtually, said for the project will need more than 70 units to be financially feasible.

Mosher and Jackson said variances are granted in situations involving hardship and they think The Caleb Group does not qualify.

“When The Caleb Group decided to purchase the property, they knew zoning allowed for 50 units,” Mosher said. “They took that gamble. They are also requesting a very large (tax increment financing agreement) that I don’t know will get approved.

A TIF is a flexible finance tool used by municipalities, plantations, and unorganized territories to leverage new property taxes generated by a specific project or projects within a defined geographic district.

“I’m not against this project,” Mosher said. “I’d love to see this project. I am against the size of the project.”

The Caleb Group owns 30 housing properties in New England, including eight in York County, five in Bangor, one in Portland and one in Lewiston.

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