Falmouth Town Council accepts private sewer, OKs zoning changes

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FALMOUTH — The Town Council Monday approved two minor zoning ordinance amendments and a request to incorporate private sewer lines into the town’s system.

Councilors approved a request from the Woodlands Villas homeowners subdivision to accept their sewer system, which is now privately maintained, into the town’s care.

The villas were built in 2000 and adjoin the Woodlands development. The subdivision is a mix of 50 properties, with 33 condominiums on 17 lots, according to a council memo.

Most of the properties connect to the privately maintained sewer line. But 10 are already connected to public sewer and still have to pay for maintenance of the private sewer because of a requirement with the condominium association.

The transfer of these condominiums to public sewer is not expected to cost the town any money, Town Manager Nathan Poore said.

“The town is far more staffed and skilled in handling waste-water than other entities,” he said, noting the acceptance of private sewer into town lines is granted on a case-by-case basis determined by the design of the private lines and whether they need upgrades.

There are five other satellite sewer systems in Falmouth that are privately maintained, according to the memo.

The ordinance amendments approved by the council were largely seen as cleaning up inequities within existing law regarding the extension of enlargement of accessory structures, such as detached garages.

Councilors amended sections of the Zoning and Site Plan Review ordinance, which treated homes with attached garages differently than those with detached garages.

The ordinance now allows the creation or expansion of detached structures if nonconformities within the lot or structure exist.

The amended language allows the reduction of setbacks and also provides more equitable redevelopment of nonconformities. In addition, it also fixes inequities regarding the tear-down and rebuilding of detached, nonconforming residential accessory structures.

The changes were brought to the council after staff noticed inequities in the ordinance, said Amanda Stearns, community development director.

The other ordinance amendment allows property owners to increase the size of their accessory cottages to 850 square feet.

Previously, the floor area of an accessory cottage could not exceed 40 percent of the floor area of the single-family home to which it is accessory. It can now be the same size, up to 850 square feet.

On Thursday, councilors will hold their annual retreat, a day-long session where they discuss their work plan for the coming year, Poore said.

The council will discuss topics including the Route 1 development project, the Comprehensive Plan, open space, and the renovation of Falmouth Memorial Library, among others.

The discussion will be facilitated by Craig Freshley, of Good Group Decisions.

Councilors will begin the discussion at 8 a.m., Thursday, in the Town Hall chambers. The retreat is open to the public.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.