Falmouth panel to review Route 100 recommendations

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FALMOUTH — The Community Development Committee next month is scheduled to continue reviewing the land use recommendations that came out of the 2015 Route 100 Vision Plan.

The town’s director of long-range planning and economic development, meanwhile, said the final engineering plans for the $10.5 million roadway infrastructure project are about two-thirds complete.

“We’re making steady progress,” Theo Holtwijk said this week.

However, the “very formalized process” and the “close coordination required with the Maine Department of Transportation” means actual construction is still at least another year away, he said.

Another key aspect of the project is acquiring right of ways along the Route 100 corridor that are needed in order for construction to move forward.

Jay Reynolds, the town’s public works director, this week said the town has been working with the state Transportation Department to begin the right-of-way process. Property owners can expect letters within a few business days.

The result of the roadway project will be the complete reconstruction of a 1-mile stretch from the Leighton Road intersection to the Libby Bridge. It also includes intersection redesign at Leighton and Mountain roads with dedicated left-hand turning lanes.

In addition, about 3 miles of sidewalk would be added along Route 100 and Leighton and Falmouth roads, along with planting new street trees and widening the road by 5 feet on each side to create room for bicyclists.

In its review of the vision plan for Route 100, Ethan Croce, Falmouth’s community development director, said the Community Development Committee “will be considering each of the various land use recommendations in the plan and determining which recommendations to suggest for implementation.”

Croce said reviewing the vision plan was identified as a priority item on the Town Council’s work plan for the year.

The Community Development Committee consists of Councilors Ned Kitchel, Karen Farber and Andrea Ferrante. Ferrante was also the former chairwoman of the Ad Hoc Route 100 Committee.

In creating the Route 100 Vision Plan, the committee spent time touring and learning about the neighborhoods, farms, and businesses in West Falmouth and also conducted in-person interviews with residents.

“The message from this work has been very clear,” the vision plan states. “The residents and businesses want to make changes in order to re-create and enhance the West Falmouth community.”

There were four keys to the vision plan, with one of them being the traffic and roadway improvement process that’s already underway.

Another key was development changes, which include extending public sewer and water, “and the encouragement of sensible … development” in order for “this area of Falmouth (to) maintain its long-time character and uniqueness.”

Among the various land use recommendations in the vision plan is the goal of keeping the southern section of Route 100, between the Portland line and Mountain Road, available for mixed commercial and residential use.

However, this vision for the future of Route 100 is now being challenged, as many residents in West Falmouth are opposed to a contract zone proposal that would bring more than 100 units of new housing to the area.

Under the vision plan, the northern section of Route 100 between Mountain Road and the Cumberland town line would remain low- to medium- density residential, agricultural and recreational.

In terms of the zoning map, the plan says the town should work to fix the “misalignment (that) exists where zoning boundaries traverse through individual properties rather than follow(ing) property boundaries.”

The vision plan also recommends limiting single-use commercial buildings to 50,000 square feet, which is similar to the requirements in the Village Center district along U.S. Route 1. Another recommendation is to ban parking in the front of any new commercial building.

The plan also calls for making the front building setback “a minimum of zero and (a) maximum of approximately 30 feet (as this) more traditional building pattern is in keeping with many older buildings in the area.”

The vision plan also calls for more “compact development” overall, as well as allowing flexibility for the reuse of existing structures. Shared driveway access and lot interconnections are also highly recommended.

It’s unclear when the Community Development Committee would be ready to come forward with any specific zoning and land use changes, but Croce said it’s “already met on this issue and I would anticipate that there will be multiple additional meetings.”

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

A rendering of what the new streetscape along Route 100 in West Falmouth will look like once a $10.5 million road reconstruction project is completed.