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Council action clears path for Falmouth retirement community growth

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Council action clears path for Falmouth retirement community growth

FALMOUTH — The Town Council on Tuesday approved revisions to the OceanView overlay district that will allow the retirement community to add to its capacity by expanding upward.

Under the new plan, the lodges can be increased from three to four stories, which would enable the facility to offer additional, larger units that are now in demand, owner John Wasileski said.

"Originally, in the Main Lodge 23 years ago, 800-square-foot units were the norm," he said. "But now, people want between 1,100 and 1,400 square feet."

In addition to the Main Lodge, future plans include possible expansion of Hilltop Lodge and the assisted living facility, Wasileski said. Having the extra height would also make it easier to include solar hot water systems.

During the council meeting, Councilor Bonny Rodden said some OceanView residents were concerned that as the community is expanded, they will no longer be able to afford to live there. But Matthew Teare, director of development, said that the "development and the fact that OceanView is growing does not affect the monthly fee."

But Falmouth's No. 1 taxpayer, which paid nearly $400,000 in 2008 taxes to the town, is still interested in acquiring at least a portion of the acreage presently occupied by Lunt and Plummer-Motz schools, Wasileski said.

In June 2008, in a letter to the town's Community Facilities Planning Committee, OceanView proposed a partnership with the town to redevelop the 20-acre school property that abuts the retirement community. At that time, the town was still waiting for citizens' approval of a new elementary school. After it was approved, the facilities committee held a public meeting to gather input from residents for possible uses for the property.

Though Town Manager Nathan Poore said Wednesday that the committee discussed OceanView's proposal as recently as last month, committee members ultimately decided to finish consideration of a second set of diagrams designed by Oak Point Associates when they meet next Wednesday, Oct. 21. These diagrams are concept drawings of the two school buildings that indicate how space could be used for a library in Lunt and a community center in Plummer-Motz, Poore said.

Poore could not predict when the committee might be ready to revisit OceanView's proposal and said the committee also questioned if the town could sell the property without first offering it to other entities, too.

Wasileski said he hopes OceanView, with more than 300 residents, can be involved.

"There is plenty of land to accomplish a nice expansion of OceanView," he said. "Our plan will leave enough room for whatever the town wants to do with a library or town hall or community center. We'd be able to pay for the land in expansion and to pay taxes that will allow the town's public use to be paid for."

In other business, the town will consider a software program that would give mooring customers the ability to pay online, update personal information and attach their registration and a photo of their boat.

The council also approved Poore's decision to hire another police officer, a position that had been eliminated with the new budget. With the retirement of one officer and two others on medical leave, the town has been spending a lot on overtime to keep two officers on duty for each shift, Chief Edward Tolan said.

In addition, the extra hours were creating fatigue and could eventually cause a drop in morale, he said. There is enough money in the budget to cover the expense of the additional officer for the rest of the fiscal year, the chief said.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.