Falmouth Planning Board endorses use of contract zoning

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FALMOUTH — Town councilors will decide whether to allow contract zoning following unanimous approval Tuesday night by the Planning Board.

The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing the planning tool, which cities and towns can use to rezone a district or parcel of land based on an agreement with a property owner or developer, at its Monday, Sept. 12, meeting.

The Planning Board Tuesday also tabled a discussion on four-lot subdivision on Field Road.

Councilors first took up contract zoning as a result of a proposed expansion of the Foreside Estates apartment complex on Clearwater Drive, a 170-unit complex owned and operated by Princeton Properties. Princeton went before the council in May to propose an additional 72 units in three new buildings.

The Planning Board also talked about contract zoning at a June meeting, when members said they supported the measure. On Tuesday, with member Rudy Israel absent, the only addition the board wanted to see was having the council look at the requirements for providing notice to abutters. Under the proposed ordinance, immediate abutters to a property being rezoned must be informed at least a week prior to conceptual review.

Board member Thomas McKeon said it makes sense to consider increasing the area of notification, because proposals for contract zoning tend to be larger projects.

Town Councilor Caleb Hemphill told the board at the meeting that the proposed ordinance language is slightly different than what the council saw in June. The previous version, Hemphill said, was applicable only to residential growth areas.

He said the council had agreed to add a provision to include the Mixed Use Cluster District, the Village Mixed Use District, and Business Professional District.

Subdivision

The Planning Board gave preliminary approval to the four-lot subdivision at 98 Field Road at its June meeting. Final approval was slated for Tuesday.

But the board tabled discussion of the project proposed by Charles Harriman because it wants more information before granting a waiver for increased peak stormwater discharge rates and drainage.

Board members indicated they wanted to be sure the town’s existing stormwater runoff equipment in that area would be able to handle the volume. Town Engineer Jamie Mason said he didn’t want to put the town at risk without seeing more information from Harriman.

While board members indicated they had no issues with the rest of the application, Chairman Jay Chace said he did not want to grant conditional approval with the waivers.

“A waiver is supposed to be for special and unique circumstances,” Chace said. “It seems at this point more information is needed.”

The board unanimously approved a waiver for stewardship provisions and a stewardship account. As part of the approval process for a subdivision, Harriman agreed to convey about 5 acres of open space to the town, which the council accepted in July. The waiver was requested because the applicant will be deeding the open space to the town, and the parcel will be like an extension of Community Park, which is already monitored.

Harriman could have opted to have the open space controlled by a homeowners association, by a land trust, or by the town. Any entity but the town would have to monitor the land every few years to make sure any board conditions had been met.

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.