Tuesday, March 11, 2014
FALMOUTH — Residents at a public hearing Monday night gave an overwhelmingly positive response to the $3.25 million bid from OceanView at Falmouth for the former Plummer-Motz and Lunt school properties.
The Plummer-Motz school in Falmouth, seen in November, closed in June. OceanView in Falmouth wants to build senior citizen housing on acreage around the school, and would allow the town to keep using the Motz building as a community recreation center, as it is now. OceanView may also provide space for a library or private school in the Plummer building.
2011 File Photo/John Patriquin
What's less clear is what the Town Council might do with the estimated $1.8 million profit that the town stands to make on OceanView's purchase of the school complex on Lunt Road.
"This is a great deal for the town," said Mike Skillin of Lunt Road, a local businessman. "It's a reasonable proposal (that) keeps the town out of the development business."
About 30 people attended and 14 spoke during the hearing at Town Hall on OceanView's proposal to redevelop the 20-acre school complex next to its 60-acre retirement community.
OceanView offered at least $1.25 million more than two other potential buyers -- Redfern North Atlantic, a local group of development and design professionals; and the Friends School of Portland, which also was part of Redfern's proposal.
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.
The two schools closed in June, before the Falmouth Elementary School opened in September on Woodville Road. The schools were the subject of a contentious referendum in June, when voters narrowly rejected a proposal to redevelop them into a community center and a public library.
Council Chairwoman Teresa Pierce asked residents to offer comment or ask questions about the pending deal and the possibility of setting aside the $1.8 million profit to fund a community recreation center. The council will discuss both matters in a workshop Jan. 30.
Bill Baker of Lunt Road said he likes the proposal overall, but he asked the council to consider the project's impact on traffic and parking in the neighborhood. Beth Strouder of Middle Road said she likes the proposal, too, but asked about building height restrictions, new footpaths and outdoor concerts.
The pending deal with OceanView would require the town to expand its retirement community overlay district, said Town Manager Nathan Poore. It also would require a traffic study and further public review as the project develops.
Michelle Lamb of Middle Road was one of several residents who asked about OceanView's plan for the Plummer building. She also urged the council to earmark the $1.8 million for renovation and upkeep of the Motz building as a community center.
"The more all-ages we can keep the whole site, the better," Lamb said.
Karen Farber of Foreside Road was one of three residents who raised concerns about setting the $1.8 million aside. She asked questions about several other aspects of the pending deal, including OceanView's promise to allow public access to certain facilities.
"I think you guys have done an incredible job," Farber said. "It does feel big. It feels like a lot of OceanView."
OceanView plans to build 35 cottages and 36 apartments or townhouses on land behind the former schools. It also plans a 30-bed Alzheimer's care facility in or near the Lunt building, and affordable senior housing in either Lunt or the Plummer building.
The pending deal would let the town keep the Motz building and develop it further as a community recreation center, as it's now being used.
If the town decides within five years that it no longer wants the Motz building and its 2-acre parcel, OceanView will have to buy it for $200,000, according to the pending sale agreement.
OceanView also would develop a 3-acre public village green in the middle of the project on Lunt Road. It would be maintained by OceanView and continue to be owned by the town.
OceanView would upgrade the Lunt gym into a full-fledged auditorium, which would be available for public use at least 40 percent of the time. The company also is considering plans for a senior community center, an adult day-care center and an indoor pool that would be available for public use.
OceanView also may provide space for a public library or a private school in the Plummer building. Company officials have already talked with library trustees and representatives of the Friends School.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org