As a 27-plus year resident of Cumberland and an abutter to one of his (Jim McKee) prior projects, I have for over 10 years read articles in The Valley Breeze about Mr. McKee’s shortfalls, violations of development regulations, fines and utter disregard for the impact that his actions have had on citizens of Cumberland.
Recently, the Planning Board voted to grant Mr. McKee a one-year performance bond extension on his Hidden Meadows development. Kudos to Mr. Harry MacDonald, who was the only board member to vote no on this extension. All one has to do is review just a few of the Planning Board’s meeting minutes from the last 10 years and you will see that these very same issues of noncompliance and disregard of the laws that are evident with the Hidden Meadows project has been going on now for years! Mr. McKee and his various companies (Terrapin Development, Summit Builders, Dedicated Builders and JCM LLC) has a long history in Cumberland of basically “thumbing-his-nose” at oversight bodies like the Planning Board. Ask the folks who live in the Clover Court development – another McKee project – what they went through in 2011. (See Valley Breeze article 1/20/2011 “Soaked: Clover Court homeowners fuming over builder’s shortcuts”). You will hear similar stories being repeated again in Hidden Meadows – 10 years later!
Planning Director Jonathan Stevens was quoted recently in The Valley Breeze that the Hidden Meadows project is “significant 20-unit development and its completion remains of importance to the town.” Question for Mr. Stevens – when countless numbers of residents have come before the Planning Board over a period of years with horror stores as a result of dealing with Mr. McKee, when will the quality of life for Cumberland residents become a priority for the Planning Board? As mentioned, the stories about Mr. McKee are not new, but they follow the same woeful story line. What is the same, sadly, is the sheer number of times he is allowed to skirt the regulations and his commitments again and again.
For years now, the Planning Board has been more than accommodating for Mr. McKee. They have been forced to have Special Planning Board meetings to address his shortfalls. (see Planning Board Meeting Minutes from 12/13/2018 – issues with Hidden Meadows and three other McKee developments being the only items on the agenda). Most recently, the town solicitor had to work out a five-page legal agreement in an attempt to hold him accountable. If history is any indication, we can expect that Mr. McKee will find ways to avoid living up to the most recent agreed to commitments. We need to stop wasting our time and tax dollars on special accommodations for this developer.
In closing, to put it in simple terms – Mr. McKee has worn out his welcome in Cumberland – countless times. There are plenty of developers that can fill the void. The time to move on is now.