Friday, May 24, 2013
By Kelley Bouchard firstname.lastname@example.org
Falmouth officials have agreed to pay $1.16 million for 133 acres of land on Blackstrap Road as part of a plan to redevelop the former Plummer-Motz and Lunt elementary school complex into senior housing.
A 31-year-old federal conservation restriction on the 20-acre school property on Lunt Road must be transferred to other developable land in Falmouth before the town can sell the former school property to OceanView at Falmouth.
The conservation restriction can be transferred to multiple parcels as long as the total appraised value equals the $1.25 million appraisal of the former school property, said Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth's long-range planning director.
The land on Blackstrap Road, known as Hundred Acre Woods, has an appraised value of $1.2 million, so it would satisfy 95 percent of the federal requirement, Holtwijk said. The town will need to purchase another small parcel to meet the conservation restriction, Holtwijk said.
The Town Council unanimously agreed to buy Hundred Acre Woods on Monday using money from surplus funds, said Town Manager Nathan Poore. The transfer of the conservation restriction to other land requires federal approval.
The federal conservation restriction prevents the school property from being developed for anything other than public recreational uses. The restriction was added to the school land in 1981, when the town received a $20,000 grant from the National Park Service to make recreation improvements.
The council decided in January to sell the school complex for $3.25 million to OceanView, a 60-acre retirement community next to the complex.
The $25 million project would add more than 60 senior-housing units to Falmouth's property tax base, increase OceanView's annual tax bill by $323,000, allow the town to establish a community recreation center and provide a variety of other public amenities.
Hundred Acre Woods, which is owned by several partners based in New Gloucester, had been approved for an 18-lot residential subdivision, Poore said. That's why its $1.2 million appraised value far exceeds the town's $414,000 assessed value for tax purposes.
In the search for another parcel worth at least $50,000, town officials are considering 3.4 acres of town-owned land off Route 88, Poore said.
Known as the Brown property, the undeveloped land has an appraised value of $420,000 and could be divided into two house lots, Poore said. It's also next to 8-acre Underwood Park, which already has a federal conservation restriction.
Town officials hope to complete the sale of the school complex by December. OceanView plans to start redeveloping the former school complex in January.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: