Westbrook Housing Corporation has proposed a three-building, 107-unit affordable housing project off Drowne Road in Cumberland. Contributed / Westbrook Development Corporation

Cumberland voters will decide March 5 whether to allow a 107-unit affordable housing project to be built at the former Little League fields off Drowne Road.

The Cumberland Town Council voted 6-1 last week, with Councilor Shirley Storey-King opposed, to schedule the referendum on the nonprofit Westbrook Development Corporation’s proposal.

“All of us on the Town Council feel strongly that, given the underlying importance of this project, the ultimate decision as to whether or not this should move forward should rest with the voters,” Chair Mark Segrist said at the Jan. 8 meeting.

The first of three community meetings to hear the results of an impact study, including the cost to taxpayers, will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Val Halla Recreation Center. The other two meetings will be held Feb. 1 and Feb. 29.

“Let’s come together as a community, talk about this, put it on the ballot, get an answer and move on,” Councilor Tig Filson said.

Plans call for three 3-story buildings that would include 71 one-bedroom apartments, 36 of which would be reserved for seniors, and 21 two-bedroom and 15 three-bedroom for all ages.


The apartments would be reserved for households earning less than 60% of the area’s median income, $49,740 to $70,980 a year depending on the number of people in the households. Rents would be between $1,332 and $1,845 depending on the size of the apartments.

Of the more than 5,000 residents responding to a community survey in 2022, 58% said they supported some form of affordable housing in Cumberland, with 63% supporting affordable housing for young families and 76% for seniors.

“The issue of affordable housing has been around for a long time,” Segrist said.

Still, Cumberland residents have concerns over whether the Drowne Road project is right for the town.

Denny Gallaudet, a member of the SAD 51 School Board, told councilors at the meeting that the project does not honor the 1891 will of Elizabeth Sturdivant Drowne, who gave the 105 acres to the town under the conditions that it not be sold and that any income from the property should be used for education.

“This project clearly circumvents the intent of Elizabeth’s will,” Gallaudet said.


Residents have also cited concerns about traffic resulting from the project in what they refer to as a “walking neighborhood.”

Some said the March referendum date was too soon.

Teri Maloney-Kelly said the townwide vote should instead be held in June.

“I think March is ridiculous. A lot of folks in our community have no idea about what’s coming down the pipeline financially, aside from the school,” she said, referring to the latest plan to build a preK-Grade 1 school on land abutting the Greely campus.

Storey-King, in casting the lone vote against the March referendum, agreed.

“I don’t want us to be perceived as passing an affordable housing item before we know what the school number’s going to be,” she said.

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