CUSHING – Potential development of the Cushing Nature and Preservation Center into numerous house lots has sparked a petition seeking a six-month moratorium on subdivisions in this growing peninsula town.
The petition, which had more than 100 valid signatures, was presented to the town clerk Dec. 22, Selectman Alton Grover confirmed Tuesday.
Selectmen had tentatively set a special town meeting for Feb. 2, but Grover indicated town officials need to gather information and consult with their attorney before a meeting can take place.
The petition was prompted by a proposal by Bangor developer Jim Tower to subdivide portions of two parcels owned by the Cushing Nature and Preservation Center. The tracts make up nearly 400 acres with more than 12,000 feet of shoreline.
“This is a little village with a lot of open land,” resident Marilyn Clark Barnum said Tuesday. She is one of the residents behind the petition.
“All of a sudden,” she said, development is occurring so fast, it’s like “someone opened the door to the candy store.”
Cushing has a shore-land zoning ordinance and a subdivision ordinance, A. Hamilton Boothby said Tuesday. He is the town’s code enforcement officer and chairman of the planning board. The town lacks townwide zoning and building codes, he said.
“There’s not much to stop them,” Barnum said, referring to developers.
“I think the town needs time to think it through,” resident Peter Haviland said, noting the town also does not have a comprehensive plan.
The town has never faced development on this scale and there will likely be more to come, he said. A moratorium would give the town time to enact new ordinances and rules for larger subdivisions, he said.
Tower is expected to be at a Jan. 7 planning board meeting to present a formal application for 13 lots each on the two parcels he is in the process of buying, Boothby said. The house lots are least 2 acres, and some are as large as 4 acres, he said, noting that all will be waterfront properties.
In January, the two large parcels went on the real estate market for a combined $8 million. The owner, Dr. Nile Albright of the Boston-based Advanced Medical Research Foundation, decided the taxes on the property were too costly. By default, the property owner lost a court battle with the town for a tax exemption.