The City of Saco has agreed to donate all but 30,000 square feet of a 1.72 acre parcel of city-owned land at 2 Marguerite Road to Habitat for Humanity. The city will keep 30,000 square feet of the property, which contains a playground. Tammy Wells Photo

SACO — An unused portion of a rural, city-owned playground  property in Saco is poised be the site for a new Habitat for Humanity build.

With no debate, the Saco City Council at a recent meeting approved the Planning Board’s recommendation that the city donate the land at 2 Marguerite Road to Habitat for Humanity York County.

The city would retain about 30,000 square feet of the 1.72 acre-lot for the existing playground.

According to Habitat for Humanity York County, Hancock Lumber will partner with the agency in the Saco “build” to celebrate the construction and opening of their new store, situated on Route 1, just a couple of miles from the property.

The city acquired the land in 1981 through a foreclosure, according to Planning Board minutes. The property is situated in the rural reaches of Saco, in an area of mobile and manufactured homes.

By donating the land for a new home, the property will be returned to the tax rolls, the Planning board noted.

Habitat for Humanity York County has built 29 homes since its founding in 1985 and has built an average of one home a year. Since 2016, the agency has been working to increase its production to an average of two homes a year, the agency noted in a letter to the city.

“By far the biggest challenge to this goal is the availability of affordable land in York County,” the agency wrote.

Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity homes have contributed an estimated $1 million to local municipalities through property taxes.

Habitat for Humanity York County uses donated funds and materials and volunteer labor to build safe, decent and affordable housing for local families, the agency explained. Families apply to purchase a Habitat for Humanity home, and are selected on need, the ability to pay an affordable mortgage, and the willingness to partner with the agency. Throughout the construction or rehabilitation of their home, the partner family completes 400 hours of “sweat equity,” pitching in to help built it. When the home is complete, the partner family purchases the home through an affordable mortgage, the agency said. Mortgage proceeds are recycled to support the construction of future Habitat for Humanity homes.

The agency noted the homes are made affordable to low-income families using a second mortgage, held by the agency, which becomes due when the home is transferred or refinanced.

The Planning Board determined the property’s residential use would be consistent with the existing pattern of single-family, residential development in the area.

Councilor Jim Purdy made the motion, which was seconded by Councilor Alan Minthorn and the vote for the land donation was unanimous.

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