Plan to use open space angers Falmouth neighbors

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FALMOUTH — A handful of residents attended Tuesday night’s Planning Board meeting to oppose construction of an additional home in a subdivision off Woodville Road.

The board did not take any action following the approximately hour-long conversation, since it was just a request for pre-application sketch plan review.

The Maplewood Subdivision is a 13-lot parcel, developed by Chapman Development. It largely falls on Fieldstone Lane.

Owens McCullough, vice president of engineering for the civil engineering firm Sebago Technics, hired by Chapman, said the project was first approved in 2004, originally with more lots. A majority of the lots have since been sold, he said.

McCullough said the project was approved under one set of criteria, but the overlay district it falls in later changed, creating an exemption under which the developers want to create the additional lot.

The lot would not require a new road or infrastructure construction, he said. The site was chosen because it maintains a buffer, meets a 50-foot setback requirement from nearby wetlands, has good soil for a septic system, and has public water.

However, residents of the subdivision expressed their concerns about open space promised to them when they bought their land.

Catherine Hallowell, of Fieldstone Lane, said she opposes the proposal because it would destroy open space, and violate covenants between the residents and the developer.

She said an additional home “compromises the resale value” of her home, and said plans she was shown before buying the lot contained the nearby open space.

McCullough and Tim Bryant, an attorney hired by Chapman, said the developers retained ownership of the open space.

Gavin Gillespie, an abutting resident of Twin Meadows Lane, said he was there to oppose building a new home, because the developers “sold lots under one set of rules,”and residents had “the rug pulled out” from under them.

“It doesn’t pass the straight-face test,” Gillespie said.

Paula Spencer of Fieldstone Lane said privacy was a big draw when she decided to buy a lot in the subdivision. She said the remaining land was supposed to remain open.

Therese White, a Fieldstone Lane resident and sister of the developer, said she had been living there for nearly 10 years, and believed each house that was built added to the property values.

“We welcomed all neighbors,” White said.

Chairman Jay Chace said it was not the board’s charge to have a back and forth forum about the covenants, but rather to decide if what the developer is asking to do is allowed.

Board members all agreed it is necessary to involve the town attorney in the discussion.

“If you’ve made a promise … then I don’t see how you have right to do otherwise,” board member Thomas McKeon added.

Senior Planner Ethan Croce said it would be possible to allow the developers time to prepare a legal opinion of their own before involving the town attorney.

The next time the issue comes before the Planning Board will be as a preliminary subdivision application.

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

Falmouth Town Hall

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