FALMOUTH — Town councilors elected Councilor Amy Kuhn chairwoman Monday and made a commitment to be more transparent and communicative with the public.

Councilor Ted Asherman was elected vice chairman. Both votes were unanimous.

Councilors also discussed a proposal to increase the rate at which members of the council are compensated, and approved a food service license for a new pizzeria that plans to open in the same Falmouth Shopping Center location as the former Falmouth House of Pizza.

George Sotiropoulos told the council he hopes to open his Route 1 restaurant in the next few weeks, and hopes customers will enjoy the “new atmosphere.”

Sotiropoulos is calling his new place the Foreside House of Pizza. In a prior interview he said he plans to add new items to the menu, including a wider selection of traditional Greek dishes.

The closing of the Falmouth House of Pizza in late April rocked the community, especially as Sotiropoulos, the oldest child of long-time Falmouth House of Pizza owners Steve and Antonia Sotiropoulos, decided to strike out on his own.

At its May 29 meeting the council also approved a liquor license for the Foreside House of Pizza. Now George Sotiropoulos just needs final approval from the state to open.

Compensation

Councilor Caleb Hemphill made it clear the compensation proposal was initiated by town staff and not by any current or former member of the council.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said staff researched compensation rates in other nearby communities after realizing that Falmouth hadn’t increase compensation in more than 20 years and was lagging behind.

The proposal is to increase the rate from $40 per meeting or workshop to $75 and to provide the council chairperson with an additional stipend of $1,000 a year.

Kuhn said the $75 rate “puts us right in the middle of other communities in Cumberland County.” She said Falmouth had “gotten fairly out of sync” in this area.

The council will hold a public hearing on increasing its compensation during a July 22 meeting.

Communication, input

Councilors then discussed a resolution passed May 29 by the previous council that commits them to re-evaluating how the town communicates with residents and setting up new procedures for review of large development projects.

In addition, the resolution calls on councilors to work with residents to develop a shared community vision and values, and to update the 2013 Comprehensive Plan “with robust community input.”

Kuhn said in her view the resolution requires that “common goals and values guide our future work” and “big projects are moved forward in a more productive way.” She also said the document is “really critical to us moving forward collaboratively.”

New Councilor Janice de Lima said she’s in favor of the resolution because it “touches on all of the key issues we’ve encountered in the last several months. I’m eager to delve into this work in much more detail.”

Councilor Tommy Johnson, also elected last week, said he also supports the resolution, especially the sections that deal with better communication.

Communication is “is an issue that needs to be addressed,” he said, adding it will be “an ongoing challenge to ensure we’re checking in with the community regularly.”

And Councilor Jay Trickett, also newly elected, said, “I agree with the sentiments around the resolution.”

He then suggested councilors be allowed to hold regular neighborhood meetings in order to be able to engage with residents one-on-one.

Poore also said the town is moving forward on a plan to create an e-newsletter, but issues still need to be worked out, including what the content should be and how widely it should be distributed.

Johnson said whatever the town does, it must ensure that information is provided in a format that people will actually use. “We don’t want the information to go unseen or unread,” he said.

Along with a regular e-newsletter, Poore said the town has also hired a part-time communications person, Erin Bishop Cadigan, who worked last year as Falmouth’s tercentennial coordinator.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Falmouth Town Councilor Amy Kuhn was unanimously elected chairwoman of the panel at Monday’s meeting.

filed under: