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Route 1, storm water get Falmouth council's attention

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Route 1, storm water get Falmouth council's attention

FALMOUTH – The Town Council on Monday heard updates on the proposed storm-water management and Route 1 infrastructure plans.

According to Theo Holtwijk, director of long range planning, the two plans dovetail.

“We did this grant because we wanted to learn more about storm water in the Route 1 area,” Holtwijk said. “Route 1 has been talked about for the last 10 or so years, we have been talking about zoning and investment in the street, storm water is a component of that project.”

The storm-water management project, funded by a grant from the state, looked at storm water runoff from various private and public properties into Webes Creek, Mill Creek, Mussell Cove and Casco Bay.

Several options for changes were presented at Bucknam Road, Hat Trick Drive and in front of Key Bank, but Holtwijk said there are other steps to take first.

He said the community needs to hear more about the management plan, and then there will be several opportunities to examine the possibility of public and private retrofits of storm-water filtration systems. From there he believes there are opportunities for zoning amendments to better govern the way storm-water filtration is handled.

Holtwijk and council Vice Chairwoman Bonny Rodden then presented an update on the Route 1 infrastructure plan and business reaction to the proposed plan.

Under the plan, which is scheduled to go to referendum June 11, the Route 1 landscape would be modified with curb cuts, landscaped medians and buried power lines, as well as zoning amendments designed to create more of a village feel along the corridor.

The $5 million plan would be funded by a tax increment financing district started in 2000, and as a result would not increase taxes.

At the end of January, the Community Development Committee ran several forums with local business owners to hear their suggestions. A public forum is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Holtwijk said more than 30 business owners showed up at the business forums, and Rodden said they were generally supportive of the plan, with some suggestions for changes to curb cuts and interconnections between businesses.

“Some people are concerned about whether this will negatively affect traffic flow through the area or accessibility to their property," Holtwijk said. "Our sense is that by sensitively working with these property owners, accommodations can be made.”

Putting the power lines underground will add to the proposed cost, but the consensus of the Community Development Committee is that it will be cost effective to bury power lines at the time of construction.

Also, according to Councilor Tony Payne, a condition of the TIF agreement forged in 2000 was that when redevelopment along Route 1 happened, the power lines would be buried.

Payne echoed Rodden’s call for public participation in the development of the plan.

“We still have a lot of outreach to do,” he said. “(But) it has been a really good, inclusive process and one that we want to continue until the last vote is cast.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.