Falmouth development would include open space

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FALMOUTH — While they’re relying on a site walk to provide more project details, Planning Board members seemed generally in favor of a new 16-lot residential development off Brook Road.

The board June 6 heard the initial details of the proposal from project engineer Tom Greer, who was representing developer Andre Bellucci.

The highlight of the proposal is a plan to turn over about 25 acres of open space to the town, which would include access to the Presumpscot River, Greer told the board.

Called Riverview Cottages, the development would have 1,800-square-foot, single-family homes designed to look like traditional cottages. Each unit would be designed to display its own unique architecture, according to Greer.

Last week’s meeting was the first in a four-step review process.

In addition to approval from the Planning Board, the project also requires a stream-crossing permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Meader Brook runs through the property and a road would be needed to access the site, Greer said. 

The development would have access near 182 Brook Road. In addition to the acreage in Falmouth, the site also includes about 9 acres of undeveloped land in Westbrook.

All construction will take place in Falmouth, so the Planning Board will have the final say over the project details.

“I think we’re generally open to the project,” Tom McKeon, chairman of the board, said last week.

Member Jay Chace agreed with Greer that a site walk would be key in providing “a good understanding of how it will all look.”

The property is within a resource conservation overlay district, which has rules regarding how closely development can occur near any body of water.

Greer acknowledged the local ordinance, but requested the Planning Board consider lowering the setback from 100 feet to 50 feet for Lots 1 and 16.

He said it was “a reasonable request” considering the topography of the site, which consists of “fairly steep slopes” with some bedrock. Greer said due to the site conditions development is naturally limited to the area he has staked out.

The site is mostly wooded, and Greer said the plan would be to keep the woods surrounding the development intact to provide a buffer and preserve the views, particularly from both Brook Road and the Presumpscot River.

“Our goal,” he told the board, “is to preserve a significant amount of open space” around the development, which would then be available for recreational access by the public.

In particular, he said, Falmouth’s Open Space Committee is hoping to eventually build a trail that would lead down to the river and then connect with other trail systems that already exist along the riverbank.

Greer said the Town Council would need to hold a formal vote to accept the open space acreage. He’s also hopeful the town will agree to build a small parking lot at the end of the subdivision road in order to help create a more formalized trail head.

Greer said if the Planning Board is able to schedule a site walk sometime in July, his goal would be to come back before the board at its August meeting for preliminary approval.

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

Meader Brook runs through a wooded site off Brook Road in Falmouth that’s being reviewed for potential development.