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Retirement community presents options for expansion on Falmouth school property

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Retirement community presents options for expansion on Falmouth school property

FALMOUTH — A local retirement community introduced three conceptual plans for expansion during last week's Community Facilities Planning Committee meeting.

The designs presented Nov. 18 by OceanView of Falmouth were planned to dovetail with the committee's vision of three possible levels of public-private use for the Plummer-Motz and Lunt schools property at the corner of Lunt and Middle roads, OceanView Director of Development Matt Teare said Monday.

With the construction of a new elementary school, Plummer-Motz and Lunt will be vacated by fall 2011, opening up a realm of possibilities for the property, which is wrapped on two sides by the retirement community.

In the committee's first version, civic use would dominate use of the property, with both existing buildings and adjoining acreage earmarked exclusively for town uses. If the town were to choose that scenario, Teare said OceanView's proposal would be to purchase just over an acre, which would give the development the required setbacks to expand its lodge by 20 apartments.

In the second alternative, the town would occupy the buildings, possibly with a new town hall, library and community center and would retain a portion of adjoining acreage. With that level of municipal use, OceanView suggested it purchase five acres of the property, Teare said, with a plan to build not only the 20-apartment expansion to the lodge, but also 25 detached cottages.

In Ocean View's most ambitious plan, in conjunction with the committee's third option, the retirement community would purchase the entire property to construct a 40-cottage development similar to its existing Whipple Farm. This plan would also include the 20-apartment lodge expansion.

Cottages would be a combination of single, duplex and triplex structures, traditional in style, with footprints of between 1,400 and 1,600 square feet customized to meet individual buyer's needs. The expansion would be designed to look much like the 42-cottage Whipple Farm development, Teare said.

Though Teare said he thought the presentation went well, the committee will wait to give feedback until it discusses OceanView's proposals at its next meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Committee Chairwoman Cathy Breen on Monday said the retirement community did a good job fitting its designs to the committee's three visions. But she stopped short of indicating which way the committee might lean.

"They have a great track record in town, they've been good neighbors on that site and they had some interesting proposals," she said. "We appreciate Ocean View coming forward and being proactive and giving their ideas; putting them into the context of the town's planning."

The committee is waiting for results of appraisals of the school property, Town Hall, Falmouth Memorial Library and the Pleasant Hill Fire Station before proceeding, Breen said. Once the numbers come in, the panel will need time to pull together a recommendation for the Town Council.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said he expects the committee to create a "full-blown report" that will most likely include some of the ideas offered by OceanView.

Teare said he thinks "for a lot of reasons, it makes sense for OceanView to be seriously considered as a partner" with the town. And he added that residents who live in the retirement community are excited by the idea of a town center being right next door.

The committee appeared to be more focused on civic use for the schools buildings, Teare said, with not as much thought given to possibilities for the undeveloped portion of the property.

"The town could do something wonderful with the buildings there and OceanView could do something with the undeveloped portion," he said. "If we worked together, we could integrate the property, with connected walks and roadways. We wanted to make sure we had the chance to talk to the committee before we get so far down the road there wasn't an option to work with the town cooperatively."

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