For the second time this year the Falmouth Planning Board tabled a 65-unit condominium development being proposed by David Chase. Courtesy / Sebago Technics

FALMOUTH — For the fourth time in the past year, the Planning Board punted on a proposed 65-unit condominium project in West Falmouth, telling developer David Chase it has serious concerns about whether the dense residential project fits with the current zoning and the Comprehensive Plan.

At its Nov. 5 meeting, the board tabled the project until Chase can come back with a plan that better addresses their doubts, including questions about traffic impact, adequate buffering and the amount of land set aside for recreational purposes.

The Planning Board has discussed the project several times since it first came forward in early December 2018 and each time board members have echoed the unease expressed by residents, who have shown up at every meeting to object to the proposed development.

The last time the board discussed the project was in April, when it tabled the application deeming it to be incomplete. It held a site walk in mid-May and last week members were asked to provide preliminary site plan approval.

Nov. 5 Planning Board Chairman Tom McKeon described the condo development, called Homestead Acres, as “jarring” and said it represents “a pretty significant change to the neighborhood.” He also said what’s being proposed is “quite different from what’s already there.”

Chase wants to build the condos on much of the same property that was part of a failed contract zone proposal, which called for more than 150 units of new housing. Chase was the developer behind the contract zone proposal, but he withdrew it from consideration in May 2018 after significant push back by residents.

As happened at all three prior meetings on the Homestead Acres project, residents turned out last week to urge the board not to grant approval.

All of the speakers said the project is too big, but they also raised concerns about environmental impacts, particularly because the project calls for filling in wetlands. They also said that traffic congestion is a serious issue.

Residents said the project doesn’t meet the vision for that area of West Falmouth, which is specifically designated for commercial growth by the Comprehensive Plan. They also argued that the zoning calls for a mix of commercial and residential uses and the condo project is almost entirely residential, except for one commercial building.

John Winslow, who lives on Gray Road, said he has “huge issues” with the condo development.

“This should be a small business district with workforce housing, why aren’t you pushing for that?” Winslow asked the board.

“It’s a real shame that one of our biggest pieces of commercial property is being converted into an extremely dense housing project,” said Mountain Road resident Steve Dyer. “There’s not a lot to like here. I’m really struggling to see anything positive about it.”

Todd Kelly, who lives on Sulky Way, said the project is simply “too big and too much.”

Chase said the project does meet zoning criteria, which he argued “is not strictly a commercial” and allows many uses.” He also said the town designated this part of West Falmouth as a high-growth district.

“You’re doing a $14 million road project to promote development, and here I am,” he added.

Gray Road, or Route 100, is undergoing a significant upgrade, including new sidewalks, turning lanes and paving, among other improvements. Residents approved a $10.7 million bond to pay for the project in 2016 and the Maine Department of Transportation is kicking in another $4 million.

But Planning Board member Peter Kenlan said condo project must conform to the Comprehensive Plan in order for it to be approved. Right now, he said, that’s not the case.

It’s unclear when Homestead Acres might be back before the Planning Board, which meets again Dec. 3.

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