In a bid to bring cluster housing to Castine, Doug Koos is moving forward with his plan to build 16 housing units in the mobile home park on The Shore Road he has owned since 1987.
“We have to increase the housing options for people who live here,” he said in a recent interview. “My goal is to make a stable year round community.”
In April, the board granted concept approval to Koos’ contract zoning application to build multifamily housing on 20,000 square feet of a 4.5-acre parcel that lies on either side of Bowden Road. The approval relieves Koos from mobile home park density requirements of 12,000 square feet per unit. Castine voters then approved the contract zoning plan at town meeting.
At that time, Koos envisioned three or four multifamily units, but when he discovered an “island of land” among area thought to be wetlands, he changed his building plan to duplex town homes.
Half of the 16 units will be restricted as affordable housing, with the specific deed language now being vetted by town attorneys.
Koos will submit a site plan review to the planning board by October 23, before the board next meets on November 14, and has already held a work session with the board on the site plan specifics. Gartley & Dorskey, a surveying and engineering firm from Camden, are preparing the site plan.
While Koos has not set on the specific architectural plan, he said the town houses will have 1,500 square feet of space, with three bedrooms and first-floor garages. The footprint of each duplex will be 20 feet wide by 40 feet deep—smaller than mobile homes on the lot with less space, Koos said. Their height will be around 35 feet.
Each unit will be separated by at least 30 feet, per Fire Chief Randy Stearn’s recommendation, and which parallels the 30-foot setback requirement in the Rural zone. The water and septic infrastructure is already in place, Koos said.
Construction will be either modular or stick built, Koos said, with an estimated overall project cost of $2 million dollars.
“I anticipate working with many different local tradespeople,” he said, in constructing the homes.
Affordable housing zone?
Right now, Koos is tearing down six decades-old mobile homes that have sat vacant in his park.
“People’s expectations have changed,” Koos said. “Is that a functioning house? Yes. But is it what a family would want? No.”
Koos plans to eventually build one-story, modular housing units, which is permitted under state law for mobile home parks.
“I’m dragging a trailer park into a subdivision,” he said.
The park is licensed for 29 units. Currently, Koos rents nine lots and rents 11 mobile homes on lots.
The 16 units approved for the contract zone are apart from what is licensed for the mobile home park.
The eight to be deeded affordable must meet the definition of affordable housing in the zoning ordinance: housing that meets the needs of families and others whose household income is no more than 125 percent of the median income of Hancock County, or around $55,000 annually, to be restricted by deed covenants or other “binding, long-term methods.”
Koos said the affordable units will rent for around $800 monthly, with the remaining units going for about $1,200.
“If I can get a family employed by MMA making $70,000 a year,” he said, whose kids would attend Adams School and who would eat downtown, “that money ends up here, not in Bucksport. Until we have acceptable housing, they’re not going to live in town.”
If all goes as planned, construction will begin next summer, with the units to be completed the next year in the summer of 2015.
Building affordable housing, or “more affordable,” as some community members have deemed it, is recommended by the comprehensive plan as one way to build a “thriving, year-round community.”
“A lot of us all agree,” Koos said, “if you build it, they will come.”
Thursday, November 14, 7 p.m., Emerson Hall.
Check castine.me.us for agenda.