PORTLAND – The tight housing market is prompting a developer to ask the city to remove an age restriction imposed by a conditional zoning agreement for a 23-unit subdivision in North Deering, known as Riverwalk.

Lloyd “Burt” Wolf wants to remove the requirement that at least 80 percent of his house lots off Hope Avenue be sold to people who are 55 or older. The Planning Board is scheduled to take up the request on Aug. 14.

The city imposed the age restriction in 2005 to limit the potential for an influx of young families to impact the school system, and to help achieve housing goals laid out in a plan adopted in 2002.

Wolf, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, is seeking to eliminate the restriction so the lots can be marketed to a wider base, said Al Palmer, a partner in Gray-based Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers.

Seven of the 23 single-family homes have been approved by the Planning Board, but only two have been built.

Palmer said Wolf has been marketing the lots since he got Planning Board approval in 2006.


“Other than the two (lots) that sold fairly quickly after the approvals, there hasn’t been any movement,” Palmer said.

Bob Adam said he and Wolf partnered in 1972 to buy more than 160 acres along the Presumpscot River. Most of that land was in Falmouth, but Portland annexed it in 2002 because it is between the river and Interstate 95 and the only potential access to the site was through Portland.

Portland paid Wolf and Adam about $1 million for 48 acres that is now the Presumpscot Preserve.

Since the land was new to the city, it wasn’t in any particular zone, so the city created the conditional zone allowing Wolf to develop 23 single-family homes on 8.5 acres of the remaining land.

Wolf agreed to sell those homes only to people 55 or older.

“At the time, the economy was in a completely different state,” Palmer said.


The conditional zone aimed to help the city achieve its goal, set in 2002, of adding 4,200 housing units over a 10-year period.

The city has fallen well short of that goal. From January 2003 to December 2011, only 1,763 units were added, said Mary Davis, director of the city’s housing division.

Davis said the housing division is reviewing Wolf’s request and plans to make a recommendation to the Planning Board.

Wolf held a neighborhood meeting at the Lyseth Elementary School on July 16 to present his request, but only five residents attended.

Three residents, including Lyman Moore Middle School Principal Stephen Rogers, opposed Wolf’s request to lift the age restriction.

According to meeting minutes, Rogers opposed the request because the school budget had already been approved. He said even five or six families with two to six children could further strain an already tight budget. He noted that Lyman Moore already uses portable classrooms.


Rogers is attending a principals’ conference and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Adam, Wolf’s former business partner, said he believes the city should lift the restriction because it lowers the property’s value and makes it more difficult to market the lots.

“The real estate market, as you know, has not been vigorous,” Adam said. “People 55 or older don’t need to buy a lot with restrictions, so they don’t.”

Adam said he still owns nearly 13.5 acres bordering Wolf’s land. Although the land is zoned as residential, it’s unclear whether it is subject to the same restriction as Wolf’s land.

“From a personal point of view, I don’t think property should have that restriction,” Adam said.



Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:


Twitter: @randybillings


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.