Proposed housing project bridges Falmouth, Westbrook

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FALMOUTH — A new housing development that would straddle the border between Falmouth and Westbrook may require joint review, depending on whether any construction would take place on the Westbrook side.

The 20-lot subdivision, called Riverview Cottages, is being proposed for 182 Brook St. As it now stands, all of the single-family homes would be built in Falmouth, leaving about 9 acres of open space in Westbrook.

Falmouth Town Planner Ethan Croce said the proposed development would be only the second time a joint review of a project that’s partly in Falmouth has been required during his 12 years with the town.

He said if all the homes are built in Falmouth, it’s likely both the Falmouth and Westbrook Planning Boards would vote to waive the obligation to conduct a joint review, which is required under state law for any project crossing a municipal border.

The Falmouth Planning Board was initially scheduled to hold a sketch plan review Tuesday, but Croce said because the developer, Mitchell Farms Properties, incorrectly calculated the density allowed, the application is incomplete and the board may table the item.

Croce said the site in Falmouth includes about 25 acres in one of the town’s growth areas. Even so, he said, the actual number of homes allowed would likely be around 17 instead of the 20 originally proposed.

Croce said he’s unsure whether the reduced number of units allowed would lead the developer to substantially alter the plans and perhaps add some housing on the Westbrook portion of the site.

If the development plans stay about the same, both Croce and Westbrook City Planner Jennie Franceschi said they would expect Westbrook’s role in the project to be limited. However, Franceschi did say there could be one joint meeting at some juncture.

“We’re currently anticipating a very limited review and are expecting Falmouth to take the lead on this project,” she added.

One of the questions for the Westbrook Planning Board to consider could be whether the developer plans to permanently preserve the planned open space or save the site for future development, according to Franceschi.

She said the requirement for a joint review “comes up every once in a while,” citing the Dirigo Project Plaza project, which is mostly in Westbrook with a small portion of the property also lying in Portland.

Under the Dirigo Plaza project – a 500,000-square-foot regional retail shopping center at the site of the former Pike Industries property on Main Street – the Westbrook Planning Board took the lead, with Portland waiving the joint review requirement, Franceschi said.

Both Croce and Franceschi said this week that the Riverview Cottages project is still in the early stages and there aren’t many details available.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

The site of a proposed new housing development straddles Falmouth and Westbrook, with the majority of land at 182 Brook Road in Falmouth.

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