Forecaster Forum: Consider facts, not fears, about Falmouth zoning

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With Falmouth’s discussions of growth, density, and zoning issues, several unfortunate things have happened.

Most importantly, some of our neighbors have lost civility and actually insulted and questioned the integrity of volunteer town councilors and dedicated staff. Let’s not let Washington-type rhetoric and behavior creep into our community. Let’s rise above it and do what is right for the community we are building.

Secondly, some of the loudest voices, for whatever their reasons might be, have been misstating the facts, which is unfortunate and deceptive.

For instance, about schools, they talk of our schools being overcrowded and overwhelmed and having no room for additional students. Here’s the real situation as reported by Superintendent of Schools Geoff Bruno:

• While kindergarten enrollment increased 23 students this year, in the past 10 years enrollment has actually slightly declined.

• Our student/teacher ratios are well within the state’s and Falmouth’s policy guidelines.

• At the high school, our current and projected enrollment of 689 students is well under the designed capacity of 725 students.

In terms of population growth, from 2007-2018 new housing units (excluding senior housing) have averaged 47, and with an average family size of 2.5. That means 117 new Falmouth residents per year. Without knowing how many residents of such homes have died, this does not seem like uncontrolled growth.

Can you imagine our town having homes for the very people we need every day? Our teachers, police, firefighters, school bus drivers, nurses at OceanView, clerks at Hannaford, waitresses, and volunteers at our nonprofits.

Imagine a new family with young children moving here from a crime-ridden area, setting up a lemonade stand, just because they now can. Imagine a veteran and his family having a home of their own, with their service dog, where they will be safe, secure and at peace.

Imagine a Falmouth that welcomes families regardless of their jobs or incomes, families like yours, who want this to be their home, to live here for our space, safe neighborhoods and great schools. Imagine that other families had the same opportunity to move to Falmouth as did yours.

Imagine what that will feel like, not having our town become a gated community. And imagine doing this together. Imagine how that will feel.

It will feel like freedom and opportunity.

Falmouth resident Godfrey Wood is executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland.

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