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Board OKs Bear Hill condos, new plan for Nate Whipple complex

By ETHAN SHOREY, Valley Breeze Managing Editor

CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland Planning Board last Wednesday unanimously approved plans for two projects: a condo proposal on Bear Hill Road and a mixed-use complex on Nate Whipple Highway.

The board approved a preliminary plan for a major land development at 80 Bear Hill Road, where applicant Waterman Homestead and Irene Schmitt, wife of Town Councilor Scott Schmitt, will build 14 new condos to replace a single home.

Jonathan Stevens, director of planning and community development, said neighbors on Standring Street seemed to appreciate how the developer listened to their concerns, especially on landscaping buffers and traffic/pedestrian safety.

Representatives for the developer made a “noble gesture” by agreeing to install a sidewalk along the front of the property abutting the road, said Stevens, a step they did not have to take.

Neighborhood residents have repeatedly asked for sidewalks on the dangerous Bear Hill Road, noted Stevens, and the section at 80 Bear Hill could be a first step.

“It may be the first of others,” said Stevens.

The condo proposal has been a controversial one due to the fact that it’s surrounded by single-family homes.

Also approved last Wednesday was a second master plan from developer Jim McKee and Terrapin Development for a mixed-use commercial and residential complex at 10 Nate Whipple Highway, the McLaughlin & Moran property.

The plan, unlike the first one approved by the board in June, calls for maintaining and renovating four of the buildings on the property instead of razing them, as well as erecting two new buildings, one for commercial use and another for residential.

The first master plan approved in June was conditional on the Zoning Board of Review granting relief to allow commercial and residential uses in separate buildings. Since the matter is still tied up in court, the original master plan hasn’t taken effect. With the new plan now approved, and if McKee is granted the necessary relief in court, the developer will have to choose which of the plans to move forward with, since “you can’t have two master plans,” said Stevens.

Town officials are also now working “to create another avenue” for McKee if he ends up losing in court, a possible comprehensive plan amendment stimulating redevelopment of this property and others suffering from neglect or incomplete development.

Read the full article on The Valley Breeze website.