Falmouth contract zone seems headed to council vote

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FALMOUTH — The Town Council appears poised to hold a final vote May 30 on a controversial contract zone proposed for West Falmouth.

Councilors seemed to agree Monday that the contract zoning language only requires a few more tweaks before being ready for a vote later this month.

There are three seats on the Town Council up for grabs next month and several candidates have said they would like the council to hold off on a final vote until after the June 12 municipal election.

But that seems unlikely, given the tenor of the discussion at Monday’s meeting.

Under the contract, as it’s now written, developer David Chase would be allowed to build 139 new residential units, along with some commercial uses, on a 52-acre parcel of land bound by Route 100, Mountain Road and the Maine Turnpike.

Included in the development would be 20 entry-level, single-family homes priced at around $280,000, a public park, sidewalks, and other dedicated open space. In addition, the contract calls for interconnectivity within the project and an impact fee of $1,300 for each new unit of housing.

Chase, who is developing the land along with Town Councilor Andrea Ferrante and her husband, Matthew, is also no longer requesting any exemptions from the town’s growth cap and said he’s asking for very little that’s not already allowed in the underlying Village Mixed Use zone.

The only changes being requested, according to Owens McCullough of Sebago Technics, who was representing Chase on Monday, are lot size and setback adjustments that “allow us more flexibility and to be innovative and creative.”

In all, McCullough said, “our contract zone is a smart design that’s in an area where the town wants to see concentrated development.” He also argued that the project “dovetails nicely” with the Comprehensive Plan and the town’s effort to revitalize the Route 100 corridor.

“This plan brings together the long-term vision of the town and a lot of forethought and planning has been put into it,” McCullough added, which is why “we would like to advance the project to the next step.”

During his presentation to the council, McCullough also said Chase is proposing “a more creative and thoughtful design with integrated public benefits” than what the town would see without a contract zone.

Without the agreement, he said, Chase could put in as many as 153 units that would be all condominium duplexes, “but we don’t think that’s the best alternative.”

Although the council has already held several public hearings on the contract zone proposal, it did allow limited comment Monday.

Several people spoke against the project, continuing to argue that it’s too big and will have too much of an impact on municipal and school services, and produce a lot more traffic to an already high-traffic part of town.

Chase’s attorney, Natalie Burns of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry, acknowledged this week that any decision made at the May 30 meeting could be challenged.

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

The area shaded in red is the site of a proposed contract zone in West Falmouth. The Town Council seems poised to vote on the project later this month after more than a year of discussion.

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