Falmouth council reviews Comp Plan survey, delves into dog waste

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FALMOUTH — Most residents would highly recommend Falmouth as a place to live, but fewer say it’s a great place to do business.

That finding and others from the 2011 Falmouth Comprehensive Plan Survey were presented to the Town Council on Monday.

Councilors also discussed changes to the rules governing dogs on town lands.

The results of the survey will help inform the drafting of the state-required Comprehensive Plan. The goal of the plan, according to Sandra Lipsey, vice chairwoman of the Long Range Planning Advisory Committee, is to get more people to recommend Falmouth as a place to work and live.

According to the survey, residents want more sidewalks and shoulders for biking and walking. They want to consider the area around the library, Family Ice and the baseball fields for a “town center,” and would like to see more businesses in town, especially along Route 1 north from Route 88 to the Cumberland town line, and along Route 100 between the Portland city line and Mountain Road.

They also would like to adopt policies that would permit some commercial development, like corner stores, in residential areas, and more research into compact housing. They also want the town acquire more open space and preserve existing public lands.

According to Lipsey, the survey suggested that residents think the town should devote most of its resources toward the quality of education, public safety and roads and driving conditions over the next 10 years.

Approximately 10 percent of Falmouth residents took the survey, although not every demographic group was well represented. People ages 18-34, which represent about 15 percent of the town’s population, only made up about 9 percent of survey respondents. That forced Market Decisions, which conducted the survey, to weight the data to more accurately represent that group, according to Brian Robertson, the company’s research director.

Market Decisions did not weight the survey data for anything other than age, which prompted Councilor Bonny Rodden to question whether low-income Falmouth residents were also under-represented.

Indeed, 61 percent of the survey respondents had an annual income of over $100,000, higher than the town’s median income of about $83,000, as reported in the 2009 American Community Survey.

Rodden said that could skew the responses on compact housing development.

“The representation of the people who would want that kind of housing, they were not represented in the survey,” she said.

Robertson explained that current data on demographics and income in Falmouth wasn’t available when the firm was analyzing the survey, so they decided not to adjust for those factors.

Going forward, the committee will take the survey results to business, development and other experts to get their opinions. Ultimately, the council will have to decide whether to accept the conclusions of the survey, which would allow the planning committee to use the data going forward. 

Dogs on public land

Councilors also resumed discussion of dog regulations on public lands.

On Sept. 12, the council decided to move ahead with the proposed Parks and Public Lands ordinance, but without leash laws. On Monday, it debated the best way to keep public lands free of dog poop.

Councilor Tony Payne suggested that, as written, the ordinance would require people to chase their dogs into the woods to pick up waste. He proposed changing the wording so that dog owners would only be required to pick up dog waste on paths, playing fields, parks or streets.

“The objective is, clean up where people are going to be walking or playing,” he said.

Rodden wanted to eliminate the “pooper-scooper” part of the ordinance entirely.

“I don’t see how we can enforce this, and I don’t want to pass something we can’t enforce,” she said.

But Town Manager Nathan Poore encouraged the council to keep the provision in the law, arguing that there are other ways to enforce the ordinance besides catching someone in the act of leaving their dog’s poop behind. For example, he said a witness can fill out an affidavit.

“Just by having this on the books and being able to put up a sign (on Falmouth public lands that states the law), regardless of the enforcement, will take care of the situation,” Poore said.

Ultimately, the council settled on language that says dog owners are expected to clean up after their pets anywhere that people walk or travel.

Finally, the council voted to uphold the law that allows bow hunting in Town Forest. A resident had requested banning the activity.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

Sidebar Elements


Chase returns to Falmouth council after surgery

FALMOUTH — Town Councilor and real estate developer Fred Chase is back in action after recovery from six-way heart bypass surgery.

Monday’s council meeting was the 74-year-old’s first since early August, when he went to the doctor after experiencing shortness of breath. He had surgery shortly thereafter.

“I’m feeling real good,” Chase said after the meeting. “It’s good to be doing anything after that.”

— Emily Guerin

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