Tidewater master plan gets another extension

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FALMOUTH — Despite some initial concerns about the commitment to the project, the Town Council allowed for another six-month extension of the Tidewater Master Plan Development District.

The original master plan was for 10 years, and expired this past March. The developers of the project, Bateman Partners LLC, requested another 10-year plan to finish the development, but the Town Council ultimately settled on a six- month extension, to expire in October.

The developers, under the name Tidewater LLC, did not submit the necessary documents to the town over the summer, and the expiration date for the second extension date is at hand. The developers then requested another six-month extension. On Sept. 16, the Council unanimously voted to approve another extension until April 11, 2016.

Councilor Caleb Hemphill, who serves on a Tidewater advisory subcommittee, said he was concerned the developers were not being as expeditious as possible. At the Sept. 16 Council meeting, councilors voted unanimously to approve an ordinance amending the zoning and site plan review ordinance to extend the master plan. At that meeting, Hemphill attempted to introduce another amendment which would have required all documents and plans to be submitted by Dec. 21.

Hemphill was concerned the Town Council had not heard anything from developers since the summer, saying, “They were not responsive.” He said giving a “finite schedule” to receive the legal documents was prudent, as town staff would need time to go through all the documentation. He and Town Manager Nathan Poore said if documentation didn’t come in before the end of 2015, there wouldn’t be enough time to process the amendment for the order by April. After that, an additional extension would be needed.

“We have not been particularly encouraged by the rate of fulfilment of those interim requests we had presented,” Hemphill said.

The Council rejected the need for an amendment, and instead agreed a meeting with the developers or a letter to them about the timeline concerns would be better.

Poore met with the developer, Nathan Bateman, on Monday, Sept. 21, and Poore said Bateman was “convinced he’ll have everything in time for us.”

Bateman said the company is working with the Town Council to make a few minor “tweaks” driven by a desire to make a few modifications, primarily turning a site previously intended for a hotel into 40 units of senior housing.

“We’re looking to be back in the next six months to finalize everything,” Bateman said.

Bateman said while it sounded like “a cop-out or an excuse,” the reason Tidewater wasn’t able to make the first six-month window was because of a number of other projects that needed their attention.

“It was all real things we can point to; it had nothing to do with our desire or excitement in completing last phases of Tidewater,” Bateman said. “It was unfortunately a situation of which wheel was squeaking the most.”

Bateman said what wasn’t seen behind the scenes was his legal department working on the requested documents for the town.

“The Council may not be hearing from us, but that doesn’t mean work is not being produced,” he said.

Despite the failed amendment to have all documentation in by Dec. 21, Bateman said the plan was to get the documents into town staff by the end of the year.

“Our full intention is to have everything done by Dec. 31,” Bateman said.

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

Tidewater Farm

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.