FALMOUTH — A proposed contract zone to build housing in West Falmouth is facing opposition from residents, but Town Council Chairman Caleb Hemphill says he’s confident their concerns can be addressed and the project can move forward.

Developers David Chase and Town Councilor Andrea Ferrante and her husband, Matthew, are seeking the contract zone to build 151 new housing units on a 52-acre parcel bounded by the Maine Turnpike, Route 100 and Mountain Road. A contract zone is a special arrangement to change the land-use requirements for a particular property, without changing the rules for surrounding properties.

The project, which would be phased in over several years, consists of 48 apartments, 103 single-family homes and a 6,000-square-foot commercial building. There would also be three neighborhood parks, one of which would be turned over to the town for public use. Walking trails and sidewalks would also be added.

This concept rendering of a multi-unit building was included in the developer’s plan for a 151-unit mixed-use development in West Falmouth.

To receive a contract zone, the developers must show the project complies with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and current zoning, and there has to be a public benefit that would otherwise not be available.

Even though residents have argued against the proposal at every opportunity for public comment so far, the contract zone has already received tacit approval from the Planning Board, the Long-Range Planning Advisory Committee and the Community Development Committee.

At an Oct. 11 public hearing, Hemphill said the project meets the town’s goals of adding “desirable housing types” and creating a village or neighborhood feel in West Falmouth.

He also said the council has “already decided that Route 100 should be a growth area” and that the developers have “afforded a lot of respect for the interests of the town with this project.”

However, residents continued to raise concerns about increased traffic and school enrollment, the developers’ request to be exempted from the growth cap in the first phase, and other requests for variances from the existing zoning rules.

Resident David Murdoch referred to the contract zone proposal as a “cluster bomb of houses” that would ruin West Falmouth and said “it’s a mystery to me why (it was) even brought forward.”

Murdoch said his concerns include light pollution, noise and increased traffic.

“This explosion of homes in our beautiful mountain home is not my idea of what a village should be,” he said. “If this abomination is allowed to take place, (West Falmouth) will look like Route 1.”

Another resident, Mark Winslow, said before the council allows such a big project, it should conduct impact studies on how it would affect town services.

“We should (only allow) sustainable growth,” Winslow said. “What will be the unintended consequences of this high-density project? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.”

Winslow argued that under the current Village Mixed Use zone, the developers could already do much of what they’re proposing.

Steve Dyer also spoke against the contract zone and said it “is not smart planning or smart growth.”

Ferrante, who recused herself from the council discussion last week because of her role as a developer of the property, spoke from the floor in defense of the contract zone and argued it’s just what she has always envisioned for West Falmouth. “This location, this timing, the people putting it together, it’s all a win,” Ferrante said.

But Scott Walker, who said he’s not against growth per se, called the project “a massive Goliath” and said the town should stick with the current zoning of the property to ensure “a fair playing field in terms of development.”

The council is due to hold a workshop session on the contract zone on Nov. 13, which would be followed by another public hearing, according to Town Manager Nathan Poore.

Kate Irish Collins can be contacted at 710-2336 or at:

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Twitter: KIrishCollins

See this story in The Forecaster.