The developer of property on the corner of Main Street and Nye Road withdrew his application from the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday night, July 24, after all five voting board members showed signs that they would vote against the proposal because of the impact the project would have on the flow of traffic.
Approximately 40 abutters and opponents of the hotel project packed the selectmen’s meeting room Thursday night and voiced concerns of the impact on the already busy Main Street.
“That section of Main Street is insane on any summer day or evening,” Allison S. Leschen said, a former resident of Nye Road and a current resident of Lantern Lane. “Adding 1,000 cars to that is inconceivable.” Ms. Leschen said that she contacted planners at the Cape Cod Commission about the effects the magnitude of the proposed Marriott would have on traffic. She was informed that the project would result in nearly 1,000 daily trips in addition to the current traffic pattern.
“This is a tipping point,” said Mary P. Barry of Queen Street. She said that King and Queen streets and Nye Road are already dangerous through roads as Main Street has become overcrowded.
The proposed use of the two vacant lots at the intersection of Nye Road, Lantern Lane and Main Street would overburden the area, she said. She added that pedestrians crossing Main Street from the hotel to the parking lot would only add to the dangers and traffic congestion.
Robert Walker, a developer from off-Cape who has built Marriott hotels in other towns in Massachusetts, was before the zoning board for permission to demolish two homes on Nye Road, and to build a 2,800-square-foot commercial space on a now vacant lot abutting Main Street. The upstairs of the commercial lot would be built for two residential apartments. The commercial space would be retail or a restaurant.
Behind the commercial unit, Mr. Walker proposed a 34-lot parking area, reduced upon requests from the zoning board. Robert H. Ament, attorney representing Mr. Walker, said that the lot would be open all night and day, and would require a card to open a gate. It would not be for public parking but for drivers with an access card. Mr. Ament did not say where the card would be obtained and said that it was likely owners would lease sections of it to a business on the other side of a Main Street, where there has been speculation that an 108-room Marriott is proposed.
Regardless of whether the adjacent vacant lot would be the site of a hotel, zoning board members said it did not matter. The impact of the proposed parking lot on the neighborhood was enough for board members Matthew J. McNamara and chairman of the board David A. Haddad to reject the application.
The impact on the flow of traffic on Nye Road and Main Street from the parking lot vehicles would be “irreparably detrimental” to the neighborhood, Mr. McNamara said. Mr. McNamara would not make a motion for a continuation on the hearing.
Board member Kenneth H. Foreman said he would vote in favor of a continuation if the developer agreed to submit a traffic study. He said there is no clear reason for the use of the parking lot, so he could not know if the parking lot would have a negative impact or not on the neighborhood. He said that if he voted without a traffic study, he would err on the side of caution and vote against the proposal.
Members Kimberly A. Bielan and Mark J. Cool agreed with Mr. Foreman.
Before a motion to continue the hearing was made, Mr. Ament withdrew the application without prejudice.
Kandy L. McKnight of Lantern Lane, owner of the three lots under review, urged the board to consider her when it made its decision. It is her right to sell the property, she said, adding that abutters to the property could buy the lots from her and turn the area into a park instead if they wished.
Catherine O. Bumpus of Millfield Street, Woods Hole, pointed out that special events like the farmers market and Falmouth Arts Market, both on Main Street, have faced scrutiny or been rejected because of traffic. She also urged the board not to make a decision if they do not know what the actual plans were. “If you do not have a clear answer of what this is, I am worried about you saying yes,” she said
Charles A. Woringer of McMenamy Drive, North Falmouth, cautioned the board about the applicant’s piece-meal approach to the project, making an analogy that is legal to buy matches and it is legal to buy gasoline, “we just did not know that they would burn the town down.”
In all, nine audience members voiced opposition.