In the 1957 movie “Peyton Place,” actor Lloyd Nolan, in a dramatic courtroom scene, criticizes his fellow citizens as being hypocrites.
On Dec. 15, Falmouth’s Community Development Committee will meet to decide the fate of Section 8.3(e) of the town’s zoning ordinance. This section was written to help protect water views, and states simply that anyone proposing an enlargement on their property demonstrate that the proposal “will not have a significant adverse impact on water views from adjacent or nearby properties.” The wording of this section, which does not say “will have no impact,” was an honest attempt to balance the rights of property owners to improve their properties with the rights of neighbors to preserve their views.
As in the movie, however, there’s something much larger than the battle over water views at issue: what kind of community shall we be? Section 8.3(e) has become a giant loophole, pitting neighbor against neighbor to prevent any construction, while an obviously biased and intransigent Zoning Board of Appeals routinely rejects applications with any impact on water views whatsoever. This is just plain wrong.
If the citizens of Falmouth truly want an ordinance that blocks construction projects that have “any impact whatsoever” on water views, let them stop being hypocrites and say so in the ordinance. Otherwise, they might as well construct a sign over Route 88 that says “Welcome to Peyton Place.” At least then, we’d all know where we stand, and live.
John R. Moon