I attend Falmouth Long-Range Planning Advisory Committee meetings, and listen with dismay. I read op-eds in The Forecaster, and I scratch my head.

Contrary to the assertions of proponents, the town’s 2016 rezoning does not reflect the will of many residents who live in the RA Zoning District, and it doesn’t align with the 2013 Comprehensive Plan.

The ability to age-in-place is important to all of us. I wholeheartedly support accessory dwelling units, or in-law apartments, that have been allowed as a conditional use for decades. I do not support unregulated ADUs being built for short-term vacation rentals that dramatically change the character of neighborhoods and negatively affect the quality of life for neighbors.

The proponents say affordable housing is being created. Quite the contrary: Oversized duplexes on Falmouth Road and Pleasant Hill Road are being offered for more than half a million dollars each. That’s neither starter-home pricing, nor a mortgage that police officers, firefighters and the “workforce” can afford.

The new 10-foot front and side setbacks are not adequate. Do we want the density of development in Portland’s East Deering to spread across Martin’s Point Bridge to the tree lined streets in Falmouth? The prior 25-foot front-yard and 20-foot side-yard setback makes more sense, to provide some space between houses, and opportunities for green space.

Minimum lot frontage has been reduced to a meager 50 feet, and only 10 feet of depth is required, resulting in oddly configured, undesirable “flag lots” that allows small back yards to be cleared and developed. For this reason, many towns prohibit flag lots. Flag lots should not be sanctioned by our zoning ordinance.

At 15 Carmichael Ave., a single lot subdivided in the 1950s has been subdivided into four tiny lots, each with 50 feet of road frontage and a mere 10 feet of front yard depth. Two of the lots are very oddly configured flag lots, each with only 6 feet in width, for a shared width of 12 feet to accommodate a common easement for a narrow, shared driveway. The existing undeveloped, heavily wooded area pools with water during heavy rain. There is no provision for collecting storm water to avoid more water problems along a road with houses that are already plagued with high ground water and flooded basements.

The character of existing neighborhoods is not being preserved. Drive down Old Powerhouse Road, and you can’t miss the oversized, out-of-place condos. Many mature shade trees have been cut down. A three-story house overfills a tiny lot at 27 Town Landing Road. At 154 Foreside Road a modern house is squeezed into the backyard of a 1770s Cape Cod on a new flag lot. These recent developments, awkwardly wedged in, are not in harmony with their neighborhoods.

Dozens of residents have submitted letters to the Town Council requesting a moratorium on lot-splitting, subdivisions, and building permits for new buildings on lots created since the “new and improved” zoning was adopted in 2016. Dozens of “lot splits” have already occurred. There are several developments in the works. The moratorium will immediately curtail the irreparable damage being caused to the established neighborhoods in the RA Zoning District.

While there is already support for a moratorium, we need your help. Please send a letter to the Town Council requesting a moratorium and attend the upcoming Public Hearings on May 7 and 13 to voice your concerns and join with your neighbors to call for an immediate moratorium.

Bill McKenney is a resident of Carmichael Avenue in Falmouth.


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