Twin Falls development nears final approval

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WESTBROOK — The former Twin Falls Golf Club, across Spring Street from the sprawling Blue Spruce Farm subdivision, may soon be the site of another residential development.

Westbrook Housing Group LLC, which purchased the former 9-hole course for $1.2 million in June 2016 from Clint and Kathy Boullie, envisions the property as a unique custom-built neighborhood and plans to develop it into 36 single-family lots and four commercial lots dubbed Twin Falls Landing. Westbrook Housing Group is owned by Jim Howard, chief executive officer of Priority Real Estate Group in Topsham.

The developer hopes to go before the Planning Board next month for a public hearing and final approval, said Shawn Frank, senior vice president of Sebago Technics, which is helping Westbrook Housing Group through the planning and permitting process. The developer is currently working with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on final stormwater review, Frank told the board last week.

The residential portion of the project, listed with Maine Life Real Estate Co., is being marketed as “Westbrook’s newest and most exciting subdivision … situated on the beautiful former Twin Falls Golf Course and surrounded by gorgeous landscape, birds, wildlife, river and recreational trail system.”

The lots would range from about a third of an acre to 1.8 acres and buyers would work with representatives of Gray’s General Contracting Inc., the development’s builder, to design their homes. Houses begin at $550,000 and 1,800 square feet.

Frank said there are no specific development plans for the four commercial lots at the front of the property. Once those plans are known each would have to gain site plan approval from the Planning Board. Those lots would not be accessible from Spring Street.

The property will feature a series of trails along the Stroudwater River, which will be conveyed to the Presumpscot Land Trust and be part of the Portland Trail System.

“So far everything looks excellent,” said Dennis Isherwood, a member of the Planning Board, “but the biggest comment I hear about the project is ‘they are tearing another piece of Westbrook apart’ because right now it looks awful. Unfortunately that is part of construction. I wish we could put a big picture of what is going to look like in the future right up there.”

Frank said he understands the concern, but reiterated that based on the size of the lot, the property could instead have been developed into a 160-plus lot apartment complex.

“It’s a pretty big construction project, but we think it will be a very unique neighborhood, an interesting neighborhood and certainly a nice addition to the city of Westbrook,” he said.

Planning Board member Robin Tannenbaum said she would like to see more trees added to the property beyond the requirement of two trees per house lot.

“This is treeless because it used to be a golf course,” she said.

Frank said individual lot owners may choose to include additional trees or landscaping.

“What we want is have a blank canvas, if you will, so they can go in and do the home they want to do because we do see these as custom built. It is going to be each house somewhat unique to the lot,” he said.

Across the street, Risbara Construction is developing Blue Spruce Farm, a substantial residential development.

The first phase of the project, which included close to 200 apartments and single- family houses is complete and fully occupied.

Autumn Woods, the 108-unit second phase,  was approved by the Planning Board in February 2017 and is underway. Rocco Risbara, president of Risbara Construction, told the American Journal the anticipated completion date for Autumn Woods is Sept. 1.

Risbara said the project is the construction company’s largest endeavor and “has been very successful due to high market demand.”

During the Blue Spruce approval process, some Westbrook residents raised concerns that the city was growing too fast and that such developments would put a strain on the municipal services.

In 2016, residents came before the City Council to ask for a moratorium on new residential building permits. In October 2016, the council failed to move beyond first reading a moratorium on permits for development of more than 10 lots.

Rebecca Bolton, who lives at 525 Spring St. across the street from one of the proposed entrances to Twin Falls Landing, said she is concerned about the traffic generated by the housing development, a problem that has been increased due to the Blue Spruce complex next to her house.

“Although we are looking forward to the trail system and other aspects of the development, the traffic is not one of them,” she told the board July 3.

She said she is also concerned with how the commercial lots may be developed in the future and whether that would compound her traffic concern.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 781-3661 x 125 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com.

The custom-built homes in Twin Falls Landing will be at least 1,800 square feet, sit on at least a third of an acre and start at $550,000.

Westbrook Housing Group is planning a new housing/commercial development at the former Twin Falls Golf Club on Spring Street. The proposal is expected to be before the Planning Board again next month.

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