BAR HARBOR— Island Housing Trust (IHT) has revealed an official plan for a workforce-affordable housing development at Jones Marsh near the head of Mount Desert Island. The 30-acre property, which sits off State Route 3, would contain nine lots (eight buildable for residential use and one to remain as open land) and a total of 10 dwelling units.
IHT has hired landscape architect Mike Rogers of LARK Studio in Bar Harbor. Rogers attended last week’s Planning Board meeting to introduce the development that will include six single-family homes and two two-family homes.
“So last time I recall there were maybe 11 dwelling units, now there’s 10?” asked Planning Board Chairman Tom St.Germain.
“That’s correct … some of that got shifted because of the inclusion of duplexes, with IHT trying to provide affordable housing price points by using smaller units,” said Rogers.
Rogers went on to explain how the existing wetland issues made it difficult to design the back half of the lot. “So, we went into a redesign and utilized the front half of this site…the lots are slightly smaller than one acre, because they are trying to do a smaller development,” he said.
“[Since the] last time we were here in late 2019, there’s been fundraising and minor refinements,” said Rogers. With help from Maine Coast Heritage Trust, IHT has been raising money for the Jones Marsh neighborhood since 2017.
IHT project engineer Greg Johnson presented a sketch plan that included rough drafts of the lots, the road, parking and turnaround spaces. St.Germain addressed concerns over ownership of the proposed road and turnaround area.
In 2017 and 2018, there were discussions about the width of the road. “Recently the question has become about the need to have a cul–de–sac at the end of this road … previously everyone had been OK with doing a hammerhead turnaround that we’re showing on this drawing, but I think there’s a new stance,” said Rogers.
With affordable housing, IHT wants to keep the development cost as low as possible. “Doing a cul-de–sac is a lot of area; it’s a 60-foot circle and a 22–foot road width,” he said. Rogers did not see the need for IHT to install a cul–de–sac if it was not required.
“The cul–de–sac is an emergency vehicle issue and that’s why the size is what it is… so I’m not sure if that’s something that we can really deviate from,” said Planning Board Vice Chairman Joe Cough. He then addressed the need for the houses to have a sprinkler system. “Personally, I’m fine with whatever the fire chief is fine with as long as he thinks it’s safe,” said Cough.
Rogers clarified that the fire chief had approved the turnaround and the discussion of a sprinkler system.
Following further discussion about the emergency access driveway, the Planning Board voted unanimously to act on IHT’s submission of waiver requests at the next completeness review meeting and to provide direction regarding the application’s submission of waiver requests.
A motion was also passed to schedule a future site visit. “Let us know when everything is staked out, and ready perhaps get a site plan… then we will schedule a neighborhood meeting as soon as that’s been concluded,” said St.Germain.