OceanView plan could include new Falmouth library

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FALMOUTH — Town councilors on Monday got a look at updated plans for the former Plummer-Motz and Lunt school properties during a presentation by representatives of OceanView at Falmouth.

OceanView and town officials in January signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for most of the former school properties. The neighboring retirement community plans to buy nearly all of the 21-acre parcel for $3.25 million.

The town retains ownership of a 2.2-acre lot that contains the Mason-Motz school building, along with 2.8 acres of property between the school buildings that OceanView will pay to renovate into a town green.

OceanView plans to add town homes, cottages and apartments to its existing facility. Plans also call for the renovation of the Lunt School, including a public-private auditorium, adult day-care facility and addition of a state-of-the-art memory support community on the rear of the building. The auditorium will be available for public use 40 percent of the time.

OceanView also is exploring the potential for an expanded public-private partnership on the site of the Plummer-Motz School. Those plans could include bringing Falmouth Memorial Library to the Plummer School and creating a community center at Mason-Motz.

As part of the deal, the town has the right to develop Mason-Motz into a community center within five years of the agreement.

Matthew Teare, OceanView director of development, on Monday said he was seeking guidance and feedback from the council on the proposed master plan. OceanView plans to come back to the council with an updated plan on April 23.

In a letter to councilors, Teare said “the master plan is the Town Council’s opportunity to work with OceanView to create a unified vision for the school property redevelopment” under the terms of the Retirement Community Overlay District.

Teare said addressing the zoning of the property by expanding the town’s Retirement Community Overlay District is an important first step in the process of redeveloping the property.

OceanView is seeking to expand the overlay district to the entire school property. That zoning must be in place before the sale is closed, Teare said.

Other components of the project include a network of trails and sidewalks, and the preservation and enhancement of the streetscape and building facades. Vulnerable lady’s slippers orchids on the property will not be disturbed, Teare said.

The master plan presented to the council includes several changes made in response to input from OceanView residents, including the addition of more green areas and better buffers between existing and new buildings, Teare said.

A change to the town green that will be created at OceanView’s expense elicited some concern from Councilors Bonny Rodden and Chris Orestis, after Teare said plans now call for delaying building a gazebo and leaving the space largely empty of infrastructure until plans for a public-private partnership are firmed up.

That change was suggested by town staff, said Theo Holtwijk, the town’s director of long range planning. He said once a public-private partnership is in place complementary plans for the town green will be developed.

Rodden took issue with the wording in Teare’s letter that said “a more finished ‘town green’ may emerge in the future.” She said she would like to see “may” changed to “will” and would like to review more detailed plans. Orestis echoed her concern.

Councilor Will Armitage, however, said he isn’t concerned OceanView won’t follow through on improvements to a town green. He said that was never a requirement and the town needs to allow the company some flexibility.

“By nit-picking and wordsmithing things we’re going too far,” he said.

Teare said more definitive plans for the town green should be in place by Sepetember.

“The village green and auditorium aren’t a maybe,” he said. “They will happen.”

Council Chairwoman Teresa Pierce said councilors will receive an introduction to zoning amendments for the property at their April 23 meeting. A public hearing on the master plan is scheduled for May 14 and the council is expected to vote on May 30.

Gillian Graham can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or ggraham@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @grahamgillian.

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