Letter: Falmouth debate should be about design standards

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The debate over growth areas and higher density housing in Falmouth was characterized as a tug of war between competing visions for long-term development. In reality, it is a tension between the town’s long-term vision for balanced growth and concerns of some citizens over specific projects in their areas. Some of those residents have called for a moratorium and overturning 2016 ordinance changes intended to increase density in appropriate locations and to encourage more diverse housing.

The selection of designated growth areas in the current Comprehensive Plan considered development constraints and opportunities and the potential impacts on natural resources and public services. There are numerous areas of higher density housing in Falmouth (e.g., Town Landing, the Flats, Oceanview), so to say that such housing doesn’t fit the character of Falmouth is mistaken. Multi-family housing generates fewer students and fewer traffic trips per household than single-family residences. The impacts of both multi-family and single-family developments on traffic and services are measured and mitigated during the Planning Board review process.

The 2016 ordinance amendments made it possible for my wife and I to be able to afford moving to Falmouth to be near our children and grandchildren. We converted a finished daylight basement into an apartment under the new regulations; driving by our home, it is impossible to tell that it is now a two-family residence. Rather than stalling and/or reversing the progress made in meeting housing needs, I urge the Town Council to address concerns over higher-density housing through improved design standards.

George Thebarge