Joey Donnelly of the group York Village Future points out a feature of the so-called Davis property to local resident Adele Barnett during a recent tour of the property. York voters will decide Saturday whether they support spending up to $8 million to buy the property away from developers who seek to build a subdivision there. Credit: Ralph Morang | The York Weekly

YORK, Maine — Plans for the 121-unit McIntire Woods subdivision on the Davis land will be before the Planning Board May 23 for final approval — the last step needed to develop the property, as the Maine Department of Environmental Protection recently issued its permit for the subdivision.

The Planning Board meeting comes days after the May 18 town elections, when voters are being asked in a nonbinding question if they want the town to purchase the property for between $7 million and $8 million. This represents a price for the land’s developable value as negotiated last winter between the town and the owner, the Mary McIntire Davis Trust.

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Tom Greer of Walsh Engineering, the trust representative for the McIntire Woods subdivision, said DEP has approved a site plan permit, which incorporates a wetlands plan and the development’s stormwater plans. “The permit covers the whole project,” he said.

All told, he said, the DEP permit process took “in the neighborhood of nine months to a year” to secure. The Planning Board made clear the trust was not to return for final approval until the DEP permit was in hand, he said. The board gave its preliminary nod last January.

At issue is a 121-unit subdivision of single-family houses and condos that will include 40 units for those over age 55 and six workforce housing units. The buildings are expected to be developed in several phases over as long as 10 years. Egress will be on York Street and on Raydon Road.

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The property is now in trust set up by the late Mary McIntire Davis with her children as trustees. Now that the trust has the DEP permit, it would appear unlikely the Planning Board would deny final approval of the development.

Selectmen initially expressed no interest in putting a measure on the ballot for town purchase of the property, but eventually agreed to the nonbinding vote after a group of citizens that later formed the group York Village Future asked them to reconsider.

If voters approve the nonbinding question May 18, selectmen would begin negotiating with the trust to come up with a solid number that would be put on the ballot in November. Greer said the trust will move along parallel tracks in that case. If it receives final approval May 23, it will create a request for proposals for developers this summer as a first step toward developing the land.

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At the same time, the trust is “willing to consider putting the project on hold” until after November “as long as we don’t get an offer significantly better from a developer.” Greer said the offer “would have to be something special” for the trust to accept it instead of letting the town vote take its course “because the feeling of the family is that they want to go with the town.”

“Say we got an offer for $12 million. I’m not saying we would, but if we did, that’s something we’d have to consider,” he said, because the trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to operate in the best interest of the trust.

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Greer said the family will pay close attention to the nonbinding vote. If the vote is close, he wonders, what does that bode for November? If there’s a wide margin of support, the trustees will see that as an indication to wait for that final vote in November.

He said several developers have put out feelers, but where there is uncertainty about a town purchase, and due to the costs incurred in putting together a proposal, they would need to weigh their options as well.

“They may even wait until after November. It’s a large development for a developer,” he said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Todd Frederick said if the nonbinding vote passes, selectmen have already discussed forming an exploratory committee to investigate possible uses of the property. “We want to have a public process on potential plans for how the land can be utilized,” he said. The goal is to have a plan before voters cast their ballots in November.