Falmouth library, retirement community proposals get warm response from planners

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FALMOUTH — The Planning Board on Tuesday night advanced proposals for two major projects on Lunt Road.

While no action was taken, the board heard presentations from OceanView retirement community’s plans for redevelopment of the former Plummer School into 34 units of affordable senior housing, and for and expansion of Falmouth Memorial Library.

The next step for both will be formal applications to the board.

In early November, the Town Council agreed to convey town-owned land to OceanView for a proposed expansion near the former Plummer School. OceanView agreed to swap land for roughly one-tenth of an acre needed for the expansion. OceanView has owned the property since 2012.

Matt Teare, director of development at Seacoast Management Co., which operates OceanView, said the building has been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and Seacoast will use historic tax credits for the project. He said 18 units will be constructed in the building, and the remaining 16 will be in the addition.

“As lovely as the Plummer School is, it didn’t lay out well for apartments,” Teare told the board. 

Teare said all 34 units will be classified as affordable for residents earning no more than 100 percent of the area median income. OceanView had originally proposed that an estimated 16 of the 34 units be affordable at 120 percent AMI, which, according to previous presentations by the town, is slightly more than $74,000 for a Falmouth family of two in 2015.

Rick Licht, a civil engineer from Licht Environmental Design, said the two-story addition will have a footprint of around 7,100 square feet. He said OceanView and the town will hire an engineer to conduct a traffic and parking study for the parcel, since the nearby Mason-Motz Activity Center and Lunt Auditorium all utilize a common parking area.

Licht said OceanView has installed pedestrian-scale lighting along Lunt Road, and will replace lights in the parking lot. Additionally, OceanView will install a sidewalk on Lunt Road to connect Middle Road and Blueberry Lane.

Board member Thomas McKeon spoke favorably of OceanView’s plan, but said his only concern might be how the potential heavy use of the Mason-Motz Center would affect the Plummer school.

Board members said they want to see the parking study to ensure requirements are satisfied.

Library

In November 2014, voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum question to renovate and expand the Falmouth Memorial Library. The $5.6 million project will be financed up to $2.8 million by a town bond, and the rest will come from a capital campaign organized by the library board of trustees.

Will Haskell, a vice president and principal partner at the engineering firm Gorrill Palmer, said the footprint of the library will expand to roughly 17,500 square feet from about 10,000 square feet.

Haskell said the firm is working with a landscape architect on plans for the full project, and floor plans and a building elevation plan have been submitted to the town.

Scott Simons, of Scott Simons Architects, said the additions will include two wings, one on Lunt Road and the other on Depot Road, which will both be built in the “classic New England village” style with white clapboards and asphalt shingled roofing.

He said an elevator will be added to connect the ground floor to the basement, where future expansion is planned.

Board members had concerns about parking at the new facility. There are now approximately 50 spaces, according to board member Chris Hickey. But the fully expanded building would only have 74 spots, according to Haskell.

Board Chairman Jay Chace, as well as members Hickey and McKeon, said they want to see an analysis of how parking needs were met for the current footprint of the library. 

“The current utilization of parking is a good forward indicator,” Hickey said. He added that, given the board’s intention to expand to the basement, he would like to see some kind of phased plans for future parking.

Library President Marsha Clark said the library can use parking at the adjacent American Legion Post 164 when necessary.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Falmouth Town Hall

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.