FALMOUTH — The Town Council has agreed to allow Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland to pursue an affordable housing development on town-owned land off Woods Road.

No vote was taken, but councilors in principle accepted a recommendation this week to move ahead with the project first pitched by Habitat Executive Director Godfrey Wood nearly a year ago.

The goal, according to Habitat, is to build as many as 23 three- and four-bedroom, single-family homes on 20 acres behind the police station on Marshall Drive. It would be the Portland-based nonprofit housing organization’s largest development to date.

Last February, Wood told the council the homes would be energy-efficient and have modest ownership costs.

In order for the subdivision to move forward, Habitat said it would require the land to be donated, the acceptance of a public road and a possible “zoning adjustment.”

The organization is not asking the town for financial assistance and said it would give preference to homeowners with Falmouth ties.

Last fall, the council appointed an ad hoc committee that included Town Manager Nathan Poore; Theo Holtwijk, the director of long-range planning and economic development, and Councilors Aaron Svedlow and Caleb Hemphill to interview four area developers of affordable housing.

The goal of the committee was to have informal discussions about what the developers would envision for the town land and what they would need from Falmouth, if anything, to create an affordable housing project. After meeting with Community Housing of Maine, Habitat, The Caleb Group, and The Szanton Co., the committee agreed that Habitat should be the “principal partner.”

“The team found that while all the developers had excellent track records, the single-family proposal by Habitat was the best fit for the Woods Road site,” a memo from the committee to the full council said.

Councilors gave Holtwijk and Poore permission to draft a development agreement between Habitat and the town, and to further explore the feasibility of adding a special-needs component.

Holtwijk said he might have the development agreement with Habitat ready for a council vote sometime in this month, but it could be early spring before the document is ready for review.

At least one public hearing would be held before any final decision is made, Poore said.

If it comes to fruition, the Falmouth project would be nearly twice the size of Habitat’s largest project in Greater Portland, the 13-home Carpenter Court mixed-income neighborhood in Scarborough, which is nearing completion.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]

Twitter: @KIrishCollins


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