Falmouth council takes next step toward new zoning for Route 1 project

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 1

FALMOUTH — The town is being promised as much as $100 million in new tax revenue over 30 years from the proposed Falmouth Center development on Route 1.

But the town councilors said they still need to know more specifics before they will be ready to sign off on a zone change requested for the project.

At a workshop session Nov. 14, councilors signaled that town staff should begin drafting ordinance language for the new zone. But Councilor Claudia King also told developer Jonathan Cohen that “this is a negotiation and a process and (you) need to be patient.”

It was unclear when Town Manager Nathan Poore could bring the new zoning language forward for review. The council’s next couple of meetings are scheduled for Nov. 26 and Dec. 10.

Cohen and business partner Joseph Solely purchased the Falmouth Shopping Center last spring for $21 million and later announced plans to create more than 400,000 square feet of new development on 40 acres near the intersection of Bucknam Road and Route 1.

The proposal calls for a sports complex, hotel, residences, retail shops, offices, restaurants and a village green, among various other amenities.

Initially, Cohen only sought a zone change that would allow the sports complex, which would include outdoor and indoor playing fields, plus a small administrative building to be operated by Seacoast United, the development’s only announced tenant.

But now Cohen is requesting a zone change to Village Center-1 for the entire site.

What’s causing residents and some councilors to question the project is the demand it would place on municipal services, as well as the impact on the abutting residential neighborhood.

“It’s incumbent on us to be really sure this is what the community wants to see happening,” Councilor Amy Khun said last week. “In order to do that, we need more detailed information.”

Khun said noise “was a real concern for a lot of people” when the Falmouth Center proposal was first announced last summer.

Cohen told the Town Council all he’s trying to do is create “something that’s in the best interests of kids and families in Southern Maine and in the best interests of the town I live in. I’m trying to do the nice, responsible thing here.”

But King said that councilors are “trying to be conscientious. We represent the (townspeople) and this (project) is a big deal. We have a job to do, too.”

In the end, councilors agreed that while they still have concerns about noise and traffic impacts, they’re willing to move the process forward another step.

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

1