This house at the corner of Manchester and Neighborhood roads in Northeast Harbor would be renovated, and the garage behind it would be replaced with a new house as part of a six-home affordable housing development being proposed by Mount Desert 365. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Affordable housing development planned

MOUNT DESERT — The nonprofit Mount Desert 365 has plans for a six-home affordable housing development at the corner of Manchester and Neighborhood roads in Northeast Harbor. 

There is currently one single-family house and a detached garage on the 0.79-acre lot. 

“The historical plan from the late 1920s shows that this was at one time five lots,” said MD365 Executive Director Kathy Miller. “So, it was intended to be a multi-home site.” 

The new plan for the property, which Miller presented to the Planning Board May 26, calls for renovating the existing house and building three more single-family homes and a duplex. The town’s Land Use Zoning Ordinance density standard for a traditional subdivision allows for only three lots on that property, but the standard for a “workforce residential dwelling unit subdivision” is for up to six lots. 

MD365 purchased the property in 2019 from the Heel family. 

“They had lived there for decades,” Miller said. “This property has been a year-round residence for as long as anybody alive right now knows.” 

Miller said MD365 is getting some “pushback” on its development plan from some of the seasonal residents of the neighborhood. 

“They have some concerns about density, bringing in that many more houses,” she said. “They worry about traffic, so we’re planning on doing a traffic study at that corner. They also worry that this would bring down their property values. 

“I think Neighborhood Road was designed to be a neighborhood,” she said. “Our goal is to maintain the year-round nature of this property, but also respect the neighbors so that the visual change is minimal. So, if you were driving down Manchester Road, you would see only one new house there, and it would be consistent in size with the other houses on the road. Anything else we put there would be behind the thick woods that are there now.” 

Miller noted that, in addition to providing much-needed workforce housing, the addition of five new residences would mean more tax revenue for the town. 

To comply with affordability requirements, prospective homeowners must have a total household income of no more than 160 percent of the state’s median income as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That household income limit is currently $121,120. 

Prospective homeowners also must be preapproved by a lender for financing purchase or construction. They must also intend to live in the home year-round and agree to affordability covenants for any structural changes or future sale. 

If there are more homeowner candidates than there are homes available, MD365 will give priority to those in public safety or other public service jobs. 

The Planning Board will schedule a public hearing on the MD365 request for subdivision approval for the proposed affordable housing project.  

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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