EAST MILLINOCKET – Nearly yearlong efforts to create new residential housing lots in town with Katahdin Timberlands LLC have ground to a standstill because of a lack of interest, town officials said Thursday.
Katahdin Timberlands, the town’s biggest landowner, surveyed about a dozen potential new homeowners who earlier had come to them or town officials in search of new home lots in town but got little if any response or interest, town Administrative Assistant Shirley Tapley said.
“The response was low because of the cost of the lots,” she said Thursday.
Marcia McKeague and Howard Weymouth of Katahdin Timberlands told selectmen during a meeting earlier this month that three engineering firms they had contacted in Bangor reported new lot and street construction costs of $15,000 to $30,000 – much higher than expected, draft meeting minutes state.
“They were astronomical,” Tapley said.
The lots would have been built on land off Independence Lane and Forest Avenue, Tapley said.
Town officials have been discussing expanding housing space in town since November. They first met with Katahdin representatives in December.
The prospective residents had indicated a desire to build fairly large, single-family homes, so town officials considered permitting as few as seven homes on 14 home lots. Town officials preferred using Independence Lane because it has sewer and water hookups and other infrastructure already.
Katahdin officials had expressed reservations about land near Independence Lane, saying traffic noise might be disruptive to residents already there.
The idea of new housing lots in town will not die with this setback, Tapley said. Katahdin Timberlands is receptive to continuing if more homeowner interest is discovered, she said.
“We had worked well together,” Tapley said. “I think they would be more happy to proceed with the project. They have been very helpful and friendly.”
Another option potential homeowners or town officials can pursue to increase new housing in town is to rezone some existing parcels into smaller lots, she said.
The town has about 1,800 residents. It is between Medway and Millinocket along Route 11, about two hours north of Bangor along Interstate 95.