Falmouth zoning board denies claim of water view obstruction

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FALMOUTH — Homeowners said they’ll continue to fight after the Board of Zoning Appeals ruled a recently approved building site on Andrews Avenue doesn’t significantly impact their water views.

At its May meeting the board allowed construction of a two-story, three-bedroom, single-family home on the vacant lot at 32 Andrews Ave., over the objections of abutters who said the new house would improperly obstruct their view of Casco Bay.

Because the Andrews Avenue site is a non-conforming lot, a waiver was needed from the board for a building permit to be issued.

At its meeting Tuesday, the board denied a request for reconsideration by abutters Andy Beahm, the new executive director at Maine Audubon, and Don and Patrice Walsh. The board said neither party presented enough new information to warrant further review of the project.

Afterwards, Beahm said he and his wife, along with the Walshs, are “considering all their options,” now that they’ve exhausted their appeals before the board.

Falmouth “has a water view protection ordinance and that’s not been remedied (tonight),” Beahm said after the June 27 meeting.

Under the town’s rules, the zoning board can issue a conditional use waiver if the proposed structure “will be compatible with the general character of the neighborhood … will not have a significant adverse effect on adjacent or nearby property values (and) will not have a significant adverse impact on water views from adjacent and nearby properties and public right of ways.”

In his application for a waiver from the board, home builder Duncan MacDougall said the new house would be designed to look like a cottage and would add “another nice home (to) the neighborhood.”

MacDougall also said he would be “respectful” in terms of its placement on the lot, to better protect the views from adjacent houses.

But, in their request for reconsideration by the zoning board, Beahm and his wife, who live at 24 Andrews Ave., said they would lose 20 to 25 percent of their view of Portland Head Light, and the design of the new home would also obstruct their views of the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse.

Beahm and his wife also said that prior to purchasing their home in 2012, they researched Falmouth’s ordinances regarding water view protections, which led them to specially design their master bedroom to provide a long view of Casco Bay.

In their own letter, the Walshs, who live at 17 Whitney Road, said the new home would obstruct 100 percent of their view, which they called a “significant and adverse impact,” the criteria under the water view protections in Falmouth’s ordinances.

In addition, the Walshs said their real estate agent indicated she often increases the asking price for homes with similar views by 20 to 25 percent, which means the lost view could cost them at least $100,000 of their home’s value.

They also argued that since an adjacent home had recently placed a view easement on the lot at 32 Andrews, other neighbors should have been granted the same opportunity.

Since the start of the approval process, Beahm told the zoning board Tuesday, he and his wife have had two major concerns: the original scale of the proposed new home and the impact on their water views.

“Good progress was made on the redesign, in terms of scale, but our concern from the beginning was the impact on our view,” Beahm said. “We feel there is an opportunity for a remedy in terms of the water view issue.”

He proposed the board require the ridge line of the new home be turned so it runs parallel to Andrews Avenue. “It’s the roof line as proposed that’s causing the negative impact,” Beahm said.

The Walshs did not speak at or after the meeting.

Nathan Smith, chairman of the zoning board, said the panel could only reconsider a prior decision if there were new facts or information that had not been presented previously.

Smith said he didn’t feel either party had provided the board with new information.

Board member Anthony DeRice agreed, saying, “I also see no need to reconsider,” while Stan Given said, “I’ve looked this over and there’s nothing significantly new that would warrant reopening” the issue.

Smith then told the applicants that while there was nothing further the board could do, “there are other forums” they could try, which could include going to court.

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

Andy Beahm, who lives at 24 Andrews Ave. in Falmouth, arguing before the Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday. He said a newly approved home at 32 Andrews would improperly block his view of Casco Bay.