CAPE ELIZABETH — The Cape Elizabeth Planning Board has approved a subdivision on Spurwink Avenue that includes residential condominiums and rental apartments, along with open space.

The board voted unanimously last week to approve the final major subdivision plan for Maxwell Woods. It will include 38 residential condominium units – including two low-income affordable housing units – and eight apartments in two buildings, constructed on nearly 18 acres of land near the northern end of Spurwink Avenue.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be just over $1.3 million.

About 8.5 acres will be preserved as open space – two of which will be preserved as farmland by William and Lois Bamford, owners of Maxwell Farm. The 2 acres immediately abut land they currently farm.

The Town Council approved an amendment to the town’s zoning ordinance on Aug. 14 that clarified the definition of land that may be preserved for agriculture as part of an open-space development.

The amendment says that agricultural land preserved as open space in a development must meet the requirements of “farmland” as it is defined in the state’s Farm and Open Space Tax Law. However, the land to be preserved under this subsection can be less than 5 acres and deemed “farmland” if it is part of a parcel of farmland that is at least 5 acres.

Residents last week urged the board to consider leaving the 2 acres as open space, accessible to the public, rather than preserving it as farmland.

Mitchell Road resident Becky Fernald said the land doesn’t appear to be suitable for farming.

“I really believe that in this development the majority of open space that’s designated is not considered a natural, undeveloped space for land,” she said. “Most of the land is being transformed from a forest … into lawn area.”

Larry Stern of Columbus Road said that he supports local farmers, but thinks the town “need(s) to weigh the advantage to (the Bamfords) against the potential advantage to the community to have the land as real open space with public access.”

Lee Lowry, attorney for developer Joel Fitzpatrick, said the Bamfords planned to use the 2 acres to store farming equipment.

“I don’t think many farms would survive if they didn’t have ancillary (spaces) to support their equipment and their buildings … and they probably wouldn’t want to use prime farmland for those functions and that’s what’s taking place here,” he said. “The land here clearly meets the definition of agricultural use.”

Town Planner Maureen O’Meara said that the particular piece of property had been tilled in the recent past and if it ceases to be used as agricultural land for three years, the town can take it for open space.

“There is a demand for this type of housing … that is one bonus brought to (town), more than just tax dollars,” said Planning Board member Victoria Volent.

Jocelyn Van Saun can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 183 or at:

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