New development would add 200 residences

Severance Corners project before DRB New development plans near Severance Corners could bring an influx of residents, restaurants, and retail to town — but not for another 10 years. S.D. Ireland, which owns the property on the southeast corner of Route 2 and Severance Road, is proposing to build 197 new residential units and enough […]

Severance Corners project before DRB

New development plans near Severance Corners could bring an influx of residents, restaurants, and retail to town — but not for another 10 years.

S.D. Ireland, which owns the property on the southeast corner of Route 2 and Severance Road, is proposing to build 197 new residential units and enough office and commercial space to fill a football field.

That could mean upwards of 200 new residents, though probably many more, considering that at least one third of the proposed units are multiple storied townhouses. Many of the proposed units vary in stories and style, perhaps to attract young working families.

According to the application, no existing buildings on the lot will be retained and the total amount of finished space will cover approximately 250,000 square feet, including residential and commercial construction. Residential units include mixed use, from single to three story buildings, with basements and parking space.

Total buildout is estimated to be completed by 2029.

D.S. Ireland’s application for a town permit states that stormwater will be handled onsite and the project will connect to existing water and sewer lines.

In the past, a group of residents have raised concerns that increased development could negatively affect the town’s character, specifically near Malletts Bay. But Severance Corners—and now the surrounding area—continues to grow.

While Colchester is one of the largest towns by land mass in the state, its varied housing and attractions leave its identity a little harder to discern. 

Town Manager Aaron Frank argues that the town’s many diverse pieces balance each other out to create one unified town. “We have many things but we’re one town and you just have to accept that. It’s not a single community that’s only got one thing,” said Frank. 

“I lived here in the 80’s and I remember going through Severance Corners when it was four stop signs and a moose crossing, when I was driving home from work,” he said. “Growth has happened but we’ve tried to concentrate it so we can respect the natural areas, historic neighborhoods, and the rural areas of town. Creating a concentrated growth area allows us to be respectful of those boundaries.”

Planning and Zoning Director Sarah Hadd noted how, in the last ten to 15 years, Colchester has defied state-wide trends by increasing housing affordability. “Part of that is due to Severance Corners, new housing that’s gone up there,” she said. Market incentives in density help to decrease prices and infill development throughout the community also aid in increasing affordability.

S.D. Ireland’s application is still under review by the Development Review Board (DRB), having recessed twice since being submitted in June of this year. The board will revisit the proposal at their upcoming meeting on Oct. 9.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the development plans include 97 new residential units, when in fact, the number is 197. This means that new development could add 200 new residents, not 100.)