Monday, December 9, 2013
Falmouth voters may be asked to consider funding redevelopment of the town's Route 1 commercial corridor to create a more village-like atmosphere.
The Town Council's community development committee will hold a half-day workshop on July 12 to consider changes in the zoning ordinance and in the public right of way that would bring the village concept to life.
The redevelopment proposal could call for widening the highway from Route 88 to Bucknam Road and adding a center pedestrian esplanade that would allow people to walk more easily and safely between businesses on Route 1.
"The esplanade would make the area more pedestrian friendly and more attractive," said Councilor Bonny Rodden, committee chairwoman.
"Our goal is to make Falmouth a more distinctive place to live, shop and visit," Rodden said. "The question is how far do we go with these ideas and how much do they cost?"
The redevelopment project would be funded largely by property taxes collected in the commercial district that were designated for future public improvements.
If the project costs $1 million or more, the town must hold a referendum to authorize the spending.
The mile-long stretch of Route 1 is a straightaway lined with retail plazas, car dealerships, fast-food restaurants, a Shaw's supermarket and a Walmart that's being expanded into a superstore.
The council approved a policy last year to guide the committee's work. Anticipated changes will create "a vibrant, attractive, safe, walkable, human-scaled, mixed-use, around-the-clock village that is appealing to residents, businesses and consumers alike."
The town hired a consulting team -- T.Y. Lin International, Woodard & Curran and MRLD -- to study traffic flow and public infrastructure in the area and recommend improvements to roads, sidewalks, utilities and parks.
Proposed zoning changes would allow construction of taller buildings closer to the street and would promote residential uses above businesses.
Possible changes in the public right of way include the addition of sidewalks, bicycle paths and underground utility wires.
Councilor Tony Payne, another committee member, said he's concerned that some of the proposed changes would create "arteriosclerosis" or hardening of the arteries along Route 1.
"I want to make sure Route 1 remains fluid and accessible and traffic doesn't get backed up to the point that it makes people avoid the area," Payne said.
Rodden said the consultants would analyze the impact of changes on left turns and recommend traffic light synchronization to keep traffic flowing.
"We want to maintain adequate access to businesses," Rodden said.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: