WELLS, Maine — A local developer is hoping his plans for new homes on Chick Crossing Road will help the community of Wells address one of the challenges it is currently facing.

“We’re hoping we can help with the lack of housing,” Jason LaBonte, of Seacoast Acquisitions in Saco, said on Wednesday morning.

The company’s proposal – a cluster subdivision of 20 new homes called Chick Crossing Village at 144 Chick Crossing Road – is now making its way through the town’s planning process.

The project is up for preliminary approval with the Wells Planning Board, according to Town Engineer Mike Livingston. If that approval is granted, the applicant will have six months to submit a final application – and once that is submitted, the project will face further review as well as a public hearing.

The project also will need a site location permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Livingston added.

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LaBonte said his company hopes to break ground at the site by the end of this year and have the entire project completed by the end of 2023. Depending on what the housing market does in the future, each home could possibly sell in the $500,000 range, LaBonte said.

“People are overbidding,” LaBonate said about the current housing climate. “This is going to help bring that under control.”

Seacoast Acquisitions bought the 44 acres of currently wooded land last October and presented its plans for Chick Crossing Village to the town in November. The 20 homes would be built in a cluster on roughly 19 acres of the property, according to LaBonte. The rest of the land will be conserved as open space, he added.

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Earlier this month, voters in Wells approved an amendment to the town’s Land Use Ordinance that reduces the minimum lot sizes of cluster subdivisions from 20,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet for one-family dwellings and 15,000 square feet for two-family ones. The town put forth the proposal as one measure of its efforts to address the rate of growth in the community. The proposal for Chick Crossing Village, if approved, would not be affected by this new change, however, as it was submitted many weeks ago, according to Livingston.

“The application was determined to be complete and a public hearing was held – therefore, the project is vested under the previous ordinances for compliance requirements,” Livingston said.

Neighbors have concerns 

The project has experienced some pushback in the community. Earlier this month, the Planning Board had letters of concerns from abutters among its materials for its June 6 meeting.

In one of the letters, written in December, Chick Crossing Road resident Carole LeBlanc expressed concerns about the effects of construction on the foundations of nearby historic homes and on the aquifer that abuts the property. LeBlanc also expressed concern about a possible rise in traffic and noise levels and raised the issue of whether the new homes would be located too far from the town’s new fire station.

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LeBlanc urged town officials to listen to the longtime residents of such neighboring communities as York, which she said has experienced “substantial congestion” and a loss of identity as a result of development that was “not checked with significant planning.” LeBlanc also asked officials to seek input from different stakeholders in Wells, and not just those with interests in the real estate market.

“I hope that town officials take these matters seriously,” LeBlanc wrote.

Back in February, resident Meagan Walsh spoke to the Coast Star about the rate of development in Wells in general but visited the proposed site for Chick Crossing Village and cited it as an example of concerns she has about the town’s changing landscape.

At the time, Walsh said she would like to see the woods at 144 Chick Crossing Road, which abut a small, historic graveyard in addition to the aquifer, remain undeveloped.

“But I think that’s living in an alternate reality,” she said.

Walsh, who lives nearby, said she and others who are concerned by the project and other developments in town need to adjust their hopes.

“Legally, there’s nothing we can do about that,” she said. “Given that, I think people are seeking to minimize the impact of 20 houses.”

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Developer wants to work with community 

On Thursday, LaBonte said he and his team had “pretty much addressed all the concerns that have been brought to us.” For those concerned about maintaining the rural look and feel of the area, for example, LaBonte said a 50-foot buffer will be established along the road to “hide the subdivision.”

“It’s not a 200-house subdivision,” he said. “It’s pretty minor when you compare it to other ones.”

All the same, LaBonte said his project is addressing a need for more new homes in the community. 

“That’s the problem that we’re seeing right now – a lack of inventory,” he said.

In an interview about local real estate in April, Debbi Bozworth, the current president of the York County Council of the Maine Association of Realtors, discussed the inventory in Wells. She said that real estate opportunities east of Route 1 have decreased as younger individuals have bought up properties near the beach, with plans of likely living there for the long haul. As a result, the land west of Route 1, such as that on Chick Crossing Road, is now a hot spot for new and available housing.

“There are just insufficient listings,” Bozworth said. “Just very, very low inventory. Very low.”

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Chick Crossing Village developer: 20 new homes aim to meet a need in Wells, Maine – Seacoastonline.com

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