NORRIDGEWOCK — People ages 55 and older may soon have more options for housing.

Weldon Carmichael and his son, David Carmichael, plan to build four one-story rental buildings, with three housing apartments in each one on an eight-acre parcel along the Kennebec River on Skowhegan Road.

Weldon Carmichael, who owns Carmichael Excavation in Skowhegan, said he plans to build one complex first and then grow over time, though he is aiming to get town planning board approval for the entire project now.

Each separate unit will have two bedrooms, two baths, radiant floor heating, a garage and storage space. The four housing complexes will span across about six acres of the property, which is next to Sun Auto & Salvage.

“I’m trying to create something that’s comfortable, that’s very efficient. I’m going to handle most of the utilities. It’s pretty much a worry-free situation,” Carmichael said.

If the town approves the project, he would like to finish construction of one complex’s exterior before the fall. Each unit will be 1,200 square feet, and the radiant floor heat will be fueled by propane.

Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said she is excited to potentially have more housing in town for people as they grow older.

“This type of housing is in demand and not readily available,” she said.

John Martins, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said it is also a statewide trend.

“Maine has the oldest median age in the country, and we are anticipating a significant spike in elders in our state, so that would logically lead you to believe that the need for housing will continue to grow,” he said.

The issue of available, suitable housing for older people is especially relevant in Somerset County, which has a larger percentage of seniors than the state as a whole but a smaller percentage of housing units for them.

In Somerset County, 16.3 percent of people are aged 65 and older, compared to 15.5 percent for Kennebec County and 15.9 percent for the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But only 11.1 percent of housing in Somerset consists of multi-unit structures, such as apartment buildings. In Kennebec, the percentage is 22.4, and in the state it’s 19.4.

Carmichael said he doesn’t know yet what he’ll charge for rent, but he wants to keep costs low. He also did not have an estimate for how much the entire project will cost to build.

He and his son plan to do a lot of the construction themselves, in addition to hiring other contractors. Sackett & Brake Survey in Madison is handling the layout drawings and legal work.

Now, the planning board needs to determine whether Carmichael’s plans fall in line with town development rules, Code Enforcement Officer Frank Tracy said.

Planning Board Chairman Ted Gilliam said development “that fosters a good economic growth for the community, I’m all for. I think it’s great.”

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]


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