Developer makes 'significant change' in West Falmouth housing proposal

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FALMOUTH — The Planning Board wants to see more balance between commercial and residential uses in a proposal to develop more than 44 acres off Route 100.

Developer David Chase hopes to build on much of the same West Falmouth land that was part of a failed contract zone proposal for more than 150 units of new housing between Route 100, Mountain Road and the Maine Turnpike.

In showing the board the latest concept for Homestead Farms on Tuesday, Matthew Ek of Sebago Technics, the engineering firm working with Chase, said the new project would likely consist of 67 single-family, single-story condominiums with two-car garages, and one commercial building with residences on a second floor.

The proposal represents a “significant change” from when Chase went before the board in early August with a plan to build 78 new residential units, Ek said. He told the board the new plan is a direct response to objections raised in the summer.

But board member David Sinnett said he’s still concerned by the initial sketch plan, which depicts an almost entirely residential development with minimal commercial uses. He said it doesn’t reflect the intent of the area’s Village Mixed Use zoning.

“It would match much better with the village center zoning if you increased the amount of commercial versus residential,” Sinnett said.

That would also reduce concerns about the impact of the project on town schools, which was one of the biggest concerns from residents who objected to Chase’s contract zone proposal. People also argued that the development was too dense and would change the rural character of West Falmouth.

Ek said the new concept provides more space around each unit, which gives it “a less dense feel” and provides “substantial buffering from Route 100.” He also said that with no stream crossings the new proposal “greatly reduces the environmental impacts.”

In addition, homeowners would have a choice between several building designs, so the development would offer some degree of visual variety, according to Ek. He also said homeowners would have the option of adding small gardens, patios or sunrooms.

Increased traffic was also a concern for those who opposed the contract zone, and board members Tuesday said that remains an issue. Ek said due to the reduced size of the development a traffic movement permit is no longer required from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Even so, he assured the board that a traffic study would be completed prior to a final vote on the project.

Board members also questioned the designated open space in the development proposal and raised concerns about future development plans for a part of the site that’s currently been set aside.

As with the contract zone, Ek said, Chase would provide sidewalks and walking trails throughout the development. But two designated common recreational spaces would be reserved for property owners and there would be no public park, as originally proposed in the contract zone.

Resident Todd Kelly was the only member of the public Tuesday to speak directly to the new development plan.

He urged the board to require a traffic study and also asked that Chase give any undeveloped portions of the property to the Falmouth Land Trust, to ensure the property could not be further developed in the future.

The Planning Board decided to schedule a site walk to get a better feel for how the development would be laid out. It’s unclear when Chase might be back before the board for site plan approval.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Developer David Chase is proposing a new development of about 44 acres off Route 100 in West Falmouth that would include 67 residential condos and one mixed-use building.

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