Ingalls Road subdivision gains preliminary approval

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

DRAWN TO THE VIEW — The narrow gravel road past Narramissic’s driveway on the Ingalls Road ends at a hammerhead turnaround beside Lee Eastman’s house, to the left, to reveal a panoramic view of distant hills and mountains.

Despite the sharp drop off and a gravel road that narrows considerably at the end of Ingalls Road, K & W Timberlands, LLC won preliminary approval from the Bridgton Planning Board to extend the road to create a seven-lot subdivision of two- to five-acre view lots on part of its vast holdings of 1,700 contiguous acres in Bridgton, Denmark and Sebago.

The approval came over the strong objections of Ingalls Roads residents after nearly an hour-long hearing on Dec. 6. The project was originally given tentative approval in October, but that approval was deemed improper after the town realized the abutters had not been notified.

The logging company, which is also pursuing subdivisions in the Shawnee Peak area, was nearly denied its application after two of the three board members ruled that the subdivision would create unsafe road conditions because the road narrows to less than two lanes near the end.

But the two board members, Dee Miller and Roxanne Hagerman, agreed to reverse their ruling on the unsafe road standard when they realized it would leave the board no choice but to deny the overall subdivision — something the board has never done. They were also aware that, as a town road, it is the town’s responsibility, and not the developer, to ensure that the road leading up to the subdivision is safe to travel.

K & W Timberlands plans to extend the road past the hammerhead turnaround at its end to provide frontage for the lots, and only the newly-built portion of road will be kept private and be maintained by a road association. Fire Chief Glen Garland, who met with project developer’s agent Tom Greer of Pinkham and Greer, has asked that the turnaround be enlarged in width to accommodate portable tanks for water-shuttling operations in case of fire.

Greer said K & W owner Nate Wadsworth has agreed to enlarge the turnaround, but pointed out that Public Works Director Jim Kidder had deemed the road is adequate to handle the increased traffic that the subdivision will cause.

“You say the town has failed to maintain the road in a safe condition, but that’s a conclusion that is not supported by the staff. I ask you to consider that very carefully,” Greer told the board.

Neighbor Kathy Berger, who, along with Lee Eastman, lives near the end of the road, after the driveway that leads to the Narramissic Farm, said even as the situation is now, “If Lee was coming in and I was going out, one of us would have to back up. It’s not a two-lane road.” Berger did acknowledge that the town does “a good job of maintaining it, such as it is.”

However, Berger said the problem of safe passage will be increased significantly during construction, when large trucks are going back and forth several times a day, and once the project is built out. She disputed Greer’s estimate that it will likely take 10 years for all seven lots to be built upon.

Berger and other residents also pointed out that dust and road rutting is a major issue on the road now, and will become unbearable during construction. Ingalls Road is paved from its intersection with the South Bridgton Road, Route 107, to Evans Road — and then turns to gravel.

Miller said the board can not prevent a developer from having access to his or her property because of the condition of a dirt road. Chairman Steve Collins agreed, and pointed out that the board set a precedent that developers weren’t responsible for unpaved town roads when it allowed a four-lot subdivision to go in off the Harmon Road several years ago.

“To some extent, you make a decision to live on a road like that,” Collins said.

Berger said the road’s residents prefer it be kept unpaved, because people drive “at a good clip” as it is, when they attend events at Narramissic Farm.

Wadsworth, in response to a concern that more lots would be developed, said only the sloping property just down from the turnaround offers views and would be marketable. He said he didn’t want to agree at this point, however, to a stipulation that the lots could not be further subdivided in the future.

Wadsworth said he and his partner own 1,700 contiguous acres in the region, with 600 in Bridgton, 1,000 in Denmark and 100 in Sebago. He said they keep the land open to snowmobilers and four-wheelers, who use the old Narrow Gauge rail bed for recreational riding.

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