Creating a water overlay district is the correct first step for the Falmouth Town Council in its efforts to provide clarity around water view protection and to clean up the unintended consequences of the 2006 amendment to the zoning ordinance. The 2006 amendment currently forces those with nonconforming lots who want to build additions to seek approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals, rather than the code enforcement officer. The amendment was meant to keep in check residential additions that impacted water views, but inadvertently impacted the entire town, regardless of the presence of water views. Creation of the overlay district and limiting the 2006 amendment to that district will relieve the Board of Zoning Appeals from unnecessary hearings and relieve the vast majority of Falmouth of having to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals when there are changes to a nonconforming lot.
The next steps are trickier and I encourage the councilors to be deliberative in their consideration of water view protection. It is anticipated there will be two zoning ordinance amendments to follow, which have yet to be introduced, and possibly a redefining of the overlay district. For those living in the Flats or east of Route 88, this would be a good time to become engaged in the process – even those without water views.