The Falmouth Planning Board has delayed a vote on a condominium development being proposed by David Chase. Courtesy / Sebago Technics

FALMOUTH — The Planning Board delayed a decision on a 68-unit condominium complex, due to questions about whether the project complies with the Comprehensive Plan and if it needs to follow state or local guidelines.

Homestead Acres was first proposed by developer David Chase in 2018 and included around 140 units. Following a number of meetings that drew similar public criticism, Chase pulled the proposal in late 2018, before coming back with a scaled-down plan on April 2.

Nine residents also pushed back at the Tuesday meeting, saying the development is too big for the area.

“I feel this project is too big, too much traffic, and too dense,” said Stephen Dyer, a member of the opposition group. “The (zoning map) calls this commercial growth, this area is for commercial projects.”

But Andrea Ferrante, who served on the Route 100 Committee, argued commercial zoning doesn’t exclude residential projects.

I tried to get commercial development back there; the only people interested in these years are marijuana grows and big office-users, which are not allowed there. This is Route 100, not farm and forest,” Ferrante said.

“‘The board is not only authorized, but obligated, to disapprove a subdivision plan that is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan,'” said Valentine Sheldon, quoting the group’s lawyer John Bannon.

Developer David Chase countered that the Comprehensive Plan is a guideline and the project complies with it.

I know a lot of people have brought up the Comprehensive Plan and, to be frank, I read it the other day,” Chase said. “It goes on to say well-planned residential development is envisioned to be integrated in these commercial areas.”

Resident Laurie Winslow spoke in favor of the project, saying it could attract businesses and tax growth.

“(Chase) has done a great job on the self storage units, he’s a good builder and businessman. A nice neighborhood to walk and bike in would be good. This would draw businesses to the village area and increase tax dollars,” she said.

While the majority of the board felt the project met most ordinances and requirements, David Sinnet was concerned over increased traffic.

Sinnett asked for the traffic study, which is required when the project is three-quarters finished, to be done at the halfway mark instead and to include nearby intersections, not just the road leading to the development.

“That would make sure that we can see that, before it gets to a size of development, what would cause traffic issues beyond what can be mitigated,” he said. If the study determines at the halfway point that the area can’t handle more vehicles, construction can be stopped.

Chairman Peter Kenlan and members Jamie Mason, Joel Kallich and Rich Jordan, said the original requirements at the three-quarter mark work, and traffic fixes include reworking the entrance, adjust traffic lights and adding a turn lane on Mountain Road, following a smaller traffic study.

“I’m comfortable deferring to the town’s engineer and third-party traffic reviewer, that they didn’t think this would have a big enough effect (on traffic),” Jordan said.

Sinnett also said the project is too dense for the area based on Route 100 requirements calling for one unit per 20,000 square feet, while the rest of the board and Land Use Planner Dawn Emerson argued the project complies with the current ordinance.

“Single residence, detached units are not high density in my view and this (complies),” Kenlan said.

Residents and Sinnet also said the project was too close to the road, while Chase’s legal counsel argued that the project meets state guidelines calling for a driveway that is at least 305 feet long.

“It meets state guidelines, but a (minimum 333 feet) is required in regulations,” Emerson said. “The developer has to show why deviations exist and if they continue to meet safety standards.”

The Planning Board postponed a decision until staff have determined whether the project complies with local regulations about the driveway, or is subject to state regulations.

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