A recent court decision has cleared the way for the Lyberty Green housing development to be built on East Main Street.
On September 23, Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gregg J. Pasquale affirmed the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee’s decision that the appeals board must issue a new comprehensive permit. The decision came after the ZBA sought a judicial review of the housing appeals committee’s decision.
The ZBA considered appealing. However, during an executive session at its meeting last week, the board voted to let the Superior Court decision stand, Falmouth Town Counsel Frank K. Duffy wrote in an email.
Lyberty Green, a large 40B housing project proposed for Main Street at Lantern Lane, has been a source of ire for many Falmouth residents opposing the large project.
The proposed project calls for 104 apartment units housed in two 50-foot-tall apartment buildings and two 2.5-story townhouse buildings on Main Street, bisected by Lantern Lane. The project also calls for a total of 154 covered and outdoor parking spaces, as well as an in-ground pool, pool house, and a children’s playground area. The project was born out of the developer’s failed attempt to site a Marriott hotel at the same site, plans for which were voted down by the Cape Cod Commission in 2015.
The board of appeals approved the project in 2018 with 98 conditions, prompting an appeal by the developers, Falmouth Hospitality LLC.
Neighbors, who attended six months of hearings before the appeals board and two more months of discussion, expressed frustration over state affordable housing laws that weigh the region’s need for affordable housing against local zoning laws. Many felt the buildings were too large for the lot and did not fit the aesthetics of Falmouth.
The Lantern Lane neighbors who filed suit against the project must now must decide whether to bring forward their appeal currently pending in Barnstable Superior Court, Mr. Duffy said. A call this week to the neighbors’ lawyer regarding their intentions was not returned.
In May of 2020, the project was returned to the zoning board after the housing appeals committee ruled that there were too many conditions placed on its approval.
The decision had been appealed in July 2018 to the state housing committee. The basis of the appeal is the numerous conditions and denials of requested waivers of local requirements. The restrictions render the project too expensive to build. The developers also argued the board of appeals overstepped its authority when issuing the comprehensive permit and that all the conditions placed on it amounted to a denial that is masquerading as an approval.
The state housing committee released its decision and agreed with the developer that the zoning board exceeded its authority, and the permit it issued was not consistent with local needs and included unequal rules and requirements. The committee directed the board of appeals to issue a new permit that reflects the court’s decision.
Many of the conditions were changes the board of appeals requested during the hearings that were meant to protect abutters and preserve the character of the town, but were denied by the applicant.
To intervene and stop the developers from building the project, Town Meeting in 2017 authorized the select board and the town manager to negotiate to purchase the property at Main Street and Lantern Lane.
The property is owned by the Fay family. Its representatives had granted a 99-year lease to Falmouth Hospitality, LLC and they were not interested in selling and preferred the lease and the annual income it generates, Mr. Duffy said Thursday.
“Falmouth Hospitality, LLC indicated a preference to develop the property,” he said.
“The town would have to assume a 99-year lease from the lessee and this is an daunting undertaking. There is no clear assurance that income from the property would enable the town to make lease payments over the lease term,” he said.