An early layout design for the Mineral Springs Subdivision proposed for a site at the intersection of Blackstrap and Upper Methodist roads in Cumberland. Contributed / Town of Cumberland

The Cumberland Planning Board last week unanimously signed off on preliminary plans for the development of 72 single-family homes in West Cumberland.

Developer David Chase wants to build the Mineral Springs Subdivision on the site of the gravel pit he owns at the intersection of Blackstrap and Upper Methodist roads. The houses on the 40.1-acre site would be “under a condominium form of ownership,” according to Planning Board documents, and half would “meet an affordability level required by the town.”

The Planning Board granted sketch plan approval for the development last summer on the understanding that 36 of the units would be made affordable to households making up to 120% of area median income, though Chase noted at the June 18 meeting that the affordability aspect of the project is something that will be discussed with the Cumberland Town Council. According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 120% of area median income for a household of two in Cumberland is currently $122,400, and for a household of three it is $137,700.

As condos, each unit will be sold separately, but the land on the lot would be owned by a homeowners association.

“It allows for a more dense development, and at the same time you’re able to own your own home, said Peter Biegle of Land Design Solutions, which is consulting on the project.

Town Councilor Robert Vail, who attended the Planning Board meeting, said he was concerned about the makeup of the homeowners association, given that some houses will sell at market rate and others will not. He referred to possible friction stemming from the fact that members of the homeowners association may have different levels of spending power.


Chase said that changes made by the homeowners association would need 80% approval of owners when it comes to things like authorizing changes in amenities.

“Trust me when I tell you – I’ve done a lot of houses for a lot of millionaires and everybody’s tapped. I don’t see that particular comment being too much of an issue,” he responded.

Because this is a major subdivision, it must go through both a preliminary plan review process and final plan review process, according to outgoing Town Planner Carla Nixon. The purpose of the preliminary review is to ensure the project is on track to meet the requirements of final review.

The proposed subdivision is within a protected aquifer area, and for a residential development to be constructed in that area, the applicant must prove that it will not negatively impact groundwater quality. The homes would be served by public water and each would have individual subsurface waste disposal systems.

A hydrogeologic study by the firm Sevee & Maher Engineers and a peer review study conducted by a separate engineer found the subdivision would cause nitrate levels in the water that are within the range the Environmental Protection Agency deems permissible.

Resident Clayton Copp told the Planning Board that the developer’s plan to have a pond in the subdivision was unnecessary, given that any pollution in the pond could impact drinking water.

The Cumberland Rifle and Pistol Club, which is located on Blackstrap Road, supports the proposed subdivision, but wants it made clear to potential homeowners that the club is nearby.

“We all know how poorly gun clubs are received by new neighbors who had no idea that this was in their area, so we’d like to take this step in an effort to prevent this from happening,” the club wrote in a letter that Planning Board Chair Peter Bingham read at the meeting.

Chase is a well-known developer in the area. Among numerous residential projects, he helped develop the Cumberland Foreside Village Apartments in Cumberland along Route 1, as well as the Homestead Farms Subdivision in Falmouth along Route 100.

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