MADISON — Developers are hoping to move forward with an affordable housing project near the center of town, but at a public hearing this week residents said they were concerned the development would erode the quality of life in the neighborhood.

The hearing was held Tuesday by the Planning Board as part of its review of the application for the project on Weston Avenue. Nearly two-dozen people turned out to express a variety of concerns, such as whether all the units will be rented and to argue that the housing could disrupt the quiet nature of the area. They also said they were worried the development could turn into Section 8 housing, which is a program administered by the state for low-income families, the elderly and disabled, so they can receive financial aid to acquire affordable and sanitary housing.

The board is tasked with reviewing the application to ensure the project meets the town’s regulations. The land on Weston Avenue once housed a school and now serves as a play area for the neighborhood.

The developers are Sam Hight of the Hight Family of Dealerships, based in Skowhegan; Kara Wilbur, a developer based in New Portland and Portland; and Brian End, a developer in Portland. Hight said the project came about after a housing study released last year identified a housing shortage in the area.

With interest rates and the cost of materials on the rise, “it was virtually impossible” to provide housing opportunities in the area without specialized financing and subsidies, Hight said.

“We really want to provide an area that is attractive not only for people to stay but to move into this area,” he said. “I believe housing is going to be a target here over the next two years.”


The developers are planning to submit an application this month to MaineHousing for financing and hope to receive all the necessary approvals in August. The project would be split into phases.

Under the first phase, two buildings are planned offering 18 apartments, at a cost of around $5 million to build. The second part of the development calls for three buildings with 24 apartments, all priced at market rate. Each building would contain eight to 10 units and a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

The homes would not be available for Section 8 vouchers and also not qualify as subsidized affordable housing.

Scott Dionne, chief marketing officer at GO Lab Inc., spoke in favor of adding housing in the area, especially as the wood fiber insulation company prepares to grow its work force.

“We will be hiring 120 employees over the next three to five years, we’re currently at 25,” Dionne said. “Our employees are professionals who are going to have to work two to three days a week out of Madison, and they have nowhere to stay, so they’re looking for opportunities. We don’t really want people commuting in and out of here; we want to have people living here, so they can add to the services of the community.”

But Megan Caudill was one resident who spoke Tuesday in opposition to the plans.


“My kids play in the area all the time, all the kids in the neighborhood play there. It’s just a really good place for the kids to play,” said Caudill, who lives across from the proposed site.

“If things change (and it turns into Section 8 housing), now we have low-income housing all across the street from where my kids are growing up, and they have to deal with more crime, more drugs, more alcohol, more trouble, more everything,” she said.

The housing assessment that Hight cited identified a few different sites in Madison for new housing, including Weston Avenue, Winter Street and Old Point Avenue. Weston Avenue was considered the best option.

The developers hope to begin construction in the fall, with two two-bedroom units, four one-bedroom units and two studio apartments.

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