Developer withdraws proposal for West Falmouth contract zone

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FALMOUTH — Developer David Chase put an end Monday to a controversial contract zone proposal for West Falmouth that’s been under discussion for more than a year.

In a one-sentence message sent to Town Manager Nathan Poore, Chase said, “I would like to officially terminate my request for a contract zone agreement for consideration by the council.”

The Homestead Acres project, which would have added almost 140 housing units to a 52-acre parcel bound by Route 100, Mountain Road and the Maine Turnpike, seemed headed for a final vote by the Town Council before Chase pulled the plug.

“The town of Falmouth has received notice from the Homestead Acres developer, David Chase, that he is withdrawing his request for a contract zone agreement,” Poore said in a written statement that appeared on the town’s website Monday.

“According to the developer, he will be considering other development options that will not require a contract zone,” the statement added. “The developer has further stated that he hopes any new development plan will create less controversy within the community.” 

Chase declined to comment when reached Monday and also would not say what he now plans to do with the land, which was apparently under option.

At last week’s council meeting, the engineering firm representing Chase said that under the current Village Mixed Use zoning he could put in as many as 153 units, which would all be duplex condominiums.

Chase was partnering with Town Councilor Andrea Ferrante and her husband, Matthew, on the project. Ferrante did not respond to a request for comment.

She has had little to say on the project recently, although initially both she and Chase were strong advocates for the development, which they said fit in with the Comprehensive Plan and the official vision for that part of town.

However, from the start they ran up against opposition from residents who argued that the contract zone was too big and would have an adverse impact on municipal services, including school overcrowding and increased traffic in an already high-traffic area.

Resident John Winslow was among the most outspoken critics. He said Tuesday that “contract zoning is not a very good land use tool.” He called Chase’s project “just warehousing for people” and one that was “not in character with the rest of West Falmouth.”

Winslow said he’s pleased Chase withdrew the proposal.

“It was not just residents of West Falmouth, but Falmouth as a whole, who made their voice loud and clear that we don’t want to see high-density residential projects,” Winslow said.

Poore said Monday that a final vote on the contract zone was possible at the council meeting scheduled for May 30, but only if Chase and his team submitted all the information requested by staff and councilors at the most recent meeting.

Town Council Chairman Caleb Hemphill on Monday said that while he didn’t expect Chase to withdraw the project, he was also not particularly surprised.

“I think the council was prepared to take a final vote next week, but I’m not sure it would have been approved,” Hemphill said. “There was a lot of contact from residents to the council, and I hadn’t made up my own mind yet.”

“It’s been a challenging proposal for the council and the town,” Hemphill added. “We’ve certainly been listening to the input. Some sort of development may be good for that part of Falmouth, but it’s hard to say if (the contract zone) was the best fit at this time.”

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

Opponents of a contract zone proposed for West Falmouth are applauding this week’s withdrawal of the project by the developer, David Chase.

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