Most Falmouth residents support some growth in town, but they want any changes to be “intentional” and in keeping with the town character, according to a report capping off the Visions & Values project.

The report recently became available after more than a year of surveys, discussions, focus groups and a think tank to analyze what residents want for their town while looking ahead to 2040. Its findings have met with some protest from a citizen’s group that says the results were “manipulated.”

One survey showed that about “1 in 5 people love (Falmouth) the way it is and don’t want it to change” while 4 out of 5 people have “varying appetites for change,” according to David Beurle of Future IQ, the consulting firm that led the project.

The support for change depends on how long the respondents have lived in Falmouth and where in town they reside, Beurle said.

“People who have lived in the community for less than 10 years tend to have more appetite for change,” he said at the March 28 Town Council meeting. “People who have lived here for the longest certainly have the least appetite for change. Neighborhoods on the west side tend to be more reluctant to change than those on the east side of the community.”

About 22%, or 2,000 of Falmouth’s 9,100 adult residents, participated in some way, according to data contained in the report.


“We had a couple thousand people participate and a couple hundred participating at a very deep level,” council Chairperson Amy Kuhn said. “We can’t make good policy if we don’t know what folks want, so I’m really happy the community embraced this project.”

The six parts of the final report, which came at a cost of $63,000 to the town, focus on pursuing environmental protection and sustainable practices, respecting the character of residential areas, developing the village center in mixed-use areas, strengthening the community fabric, encouraging diverse housing options and enhancing recreation and transportation.

One of its main takeaways is that many residents who participated don’t want exponential development in town, but rather intentional growth that “encourages a mix of business and residential development that fosters community interaction and identity” and “enhances community amenities and infrastructure,” the report says.

“I would say (the final result) is that most people want intentional and well-thought-out evolution of the community, both at the level of the social fabric and the built environment,” Beurle told The Forecaster. “This is tempered by a cohort of the community, say 20%, that would prefer no change. I think the final result tempers ambitions to be practical, thoughtful and intentional, with an eye on the future and respecting and improving the community amenities and values.”

The results will be used to help the town update its 2013 comprehensive plan; there is no set timeline on when that work will begin, Kuhn said.

“Those changes are a little bit in the future, but we’ll take these results that we have and dig right into the comp plan update,” Kuhn said. “An example would be considering changes to the growth cap or where new growth is allowed. The whole point of this project was to identify what Falmouth residents want and then align the zoning to help make it happen.”


The comprehensive planning group will decide the order of priorities once that process begins, Kuhn said.

A citizen’s group that believes the Visions and Values findings were “manipulated,” according to member Lee Hanchett, submitted a petition with 100 names to the Town Council in January. The petition directed the council to create a “Long-Range Planning Advisory Committee” made up of residents who would come up with the town’s new comprehensive plan.

The council took no action on the petition because, citizen’s group member John Winslow said,  the “council seems to dismiss anything the residents in town want.”

Hanchett said terms used during the Think Tank event and the community surveys, such as “exclusive community” and “diverse and multigenerational community,” were biased towards promoting change in town. He also said answers that didn’t fit the outcome Future IQ wanted were overlooked.

“We now have a wish list from David (Beurle) and council with only a casual correlation to the wants and needs of Falmouth residents,” Hanchett said. “To me, the last two-thirds of the process was a failure. Following Survey No. 1, the council told us to be patient and wait for the entire process to be completed. Now it is very clear why they wanted us to wait. David, the council, and staff could bend the curve away from what the residents wanted to suit.”

Resident Tom Ancona, who participated in the November Think Tank event as well as the community surveys, said he found the final report interesting and thought Visions and Values was a “valuable process.”


“What became more apparent to me as the process went on, though, especially through the Think Tank process, is that Falmouth cannot stay exactly the same,” Ancona said. “Even if stopping all new development was legal and feasible, prices would rise, our school population would fall, and Falmouth would change, likely in ways many of us would not like.”

He said the Visions & Values process showed a clear divide between those in Falmouth who want to see the town stay the same and those who don’t.

To the surprise of many councilors, no one spoke out about the results during the March 28 meeting.

“It’s interesting to me that we didn’t have any public comment after having about 40 updates over the past year and a half where we almost always had public comment,” Councilor Jay Trickett said at the meeting. “I was quite looking forward to public comment because I hope that we put together a resolution to adopt this at our next meeting or shortly after.

“There is some significant polarization in our community and it was important to me that the report not gloss over that and talk about strategies for how we might bridge some of those gaps and bring our community together,” Trickett said.

The full final report can be found at

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