It’s unclear what impact the new building height limit in Falmouth’s village center district will have on town growth, the town manager said this week, but those behind the successful citizen referendum say there should be no impact except to preserve the town’s character and aesthetic.

The reduction in the maximum building height to 45 feet from 65 feet was overwhelmingly approved by voters Nov. 7, 2,732 to 1,719.

The goal of the citizens’ referendum was not to limit development in the town center but to complement the buildings that surround it, said referendum organizer Lisa Joy.

The citizens’ referendum came in response to the two 65-foot buildings recently built on Route 1, buildings that Joy and others say clash with the traditional New England town feel of Falmouth.

For 27 years, buildings in Falmouth were limited to a 35-foot height with the intention of maintaining a village architecture style, Joy told The Forecaster.

“It might not look like a village perfectly, but the intent was that as other buildings came to be, they would have the look of a village that complements the surrounding neighborhoods,” she said.


Revisions to zoning ordinances in 2013 resulted in the allowance of 65-foot buildings.

Along with several other Falmouth residents, including fellow organizer Marjorie Getz, Joy began petitioning to lower the height cap last November. With two of her other colleagues, she analyzed over 1,300 narrative responses from town residents. Overwhelmingly, Falmouth residents did not want taller buildings in town, Joy said.

Joy hopes future four-story, 45-foot buildings will have the “lovely” retail residents want on the first floor, with three floors of residential units above.

“We don’t have that in Falmouth,” Joy said. “We will be able to have affordable units that we don’t have now.”

According to a vision and values survey conducted in Falmouth this year, Falmouth residents are interested in keeping their property taxes low by encouraging growth in the Route 100 and Route 1 corridor, but they were still looking for buildings that reflect the character and aesthetic of Falmouth, Getz said.

People were “shocked” when two 65-foot buildings went up last year, Getz told The Forecaster.


“That kind of growth was not anticipated,” she said. “Everyone I talked to was asking me how that happened.”

The new height limit has been codified into the ordinances, Town Manager Nathan Poore told The Forecaster.

“At a minimum, future buildings in the village commercial districts won’t be able to exceed the new height limit,” he said. “How it impacts the rate of growth in this area remains to be seen.”

Getz said she hopes the town will be able to move forward on the same page with residents in regards to town aesthetic and development.

“Each town has character, and people live in these towns because the vibe of the town or the character appeals to them,” she said.

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