Mixed-use projects capture attention in Falmouth

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FALMOUTH — Two town committees came together for a second time last week to discuss how to encourage growth while preserving the town’s rural character.

The The Long Range Planning Advisory Committee and Community Development Committee met Nov. 13 with real estate developers to discuss how best to encourage growth in the designated residential and commercial growth areas.

Representatives from OceanView, Tidewater and Ridgewood were at the meeting, as well as other developers. These developments largely consist of homes and condominiums on smaller lots, and in recent years have become home to more diverse age groups.

The meeting discussed development trends not just in Falmouth, but in Portland, South Portland, Cumberland, and even some outside of Maine.

When asked how many more people the town wanted to attract before its infrastructure could no longer handle it, Director of Long Range Planning Theo Holtwijk said the goal isn’t to bring in more people.

“The town is not necessarily trying to attract people,” Holtwijk said. “But people are attracted to coming here anyway.”

He said the town was going to grow, and conversations like these are aimed at figuring out how best to accommodate that growth.

Holtwijk also stressed the discussion is not aimed at stopping growth, but to direct it to areas closer to services and town facilities.

The grouped seemed to agree that mixing commercial and residential buildings — smaller stores like hair salons on the first floor with apartments and condominiums on the upper floors — would be a good way to grow in the commercial and residential areas, while maintaining the rural areas.

There also seemed to be a consensus that high-density mixed-use development could work, particularly apartments and condominiums integrated into shopping centers. Developers were largely in agreement that walk-ability would be a key factor, and they saw a likely demand if residential units could be tied into commercial ones.

“It’s helpful to hear there is an appeal for smaller lots and homes,” said Town Councilor Claudia King, who is also a member of the CDC.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.