The Falmouth Planning Board discussed the proposed Scranton Avenue 40B project on Tuesday, April 27 in preparation for sending their comments to the zoning board of appeals.
The project, proposed by the Falmouth Housing Corporation, would have 48 rental units, all of which would be affordable. Apartments would be available to residents 62 and older. It would also have approximately 2,400 square feet of retail space along Main Street, preliminary plans showed.
It would be at the corner of Main Street and Scranton Avenue on the site of a former Cape Cod 5 bank and a motel that has since been demolished.
The planning board members voiced concerns over the plans.
Board member James Fox said he had a “real difficult time” with the plans, adding that there was “nothing to orient you there” and they were “one of the most difficult plans to read that have been presented in a long time.”
Board chairwoman Patricia H. Kerfoot agreed, saying she “was having the same difficulties.”
Board member Charlotte Harris also concurred, adding that she had to go to the planning office to get the elevations for the project.
“It’s an enormous building, and it makes for a very enormous, solid, tall block. It’s really ugly,” Ms. Harris said.
“For the people who will be living there, it’s a wonderful location for them. It’s good that we can get that many units if it’s possible. We don’t have to put them into buildings that are ugly,” Ms. Harris added. “I know we don’t have any say in what happens. It’s a 40B, but it is our town, and this thing is unsightly.”
“It’s on a very visible corner,” Ms. Kerfoot said. “As our design review, we’re saying it’s ugly and would be bad for the town on that corner in terms of visibility. It would not be a really nice place for people to love to live there.”
Board member Robert Leary concurred, saying, “We’ve been talking about redeveloping East Main Street so that people are funneled down toward the harbor, and then to have this big, ugly thing sitting there is not good for that area and what we want to do in the future.”
Board member Pamela Harting-Barrat said, “I don’t think there was very much thought put into this plan, other than cramming as many units as they could into what was available. They could have done much better, and I think they should do much better. I’m very disappointed.”
“It’s something that people see when they come into town, and when they talk about not fitting in with the character of the town, this is a big blight,” Ms. Harting-Barrat said.
“I know it provides housing, but I think we could provide housing that was much more livable than this kind of housing is,” she added.
Safety concerns for seniors crossing Main Street were also discussed.
“What really troubled me,” Ms. Kerfoot said, “is the crossing there. These are going to be for senior citizens; the senior center is directly across the street, and this is an extremely dangerous corner. That is one thing that can either allow a requirement by the ZBA or allow them to turn the whole thing down.”
“That is a safety factor. There needs to be a signal at that corner,” she added.
Citing the McMahon study done in 2016, Mr. Fox said he believed it was given a “D- or F for intersections being so dangerous.”
Mr. Fox said he would “like to see the impact of this increased traffic on that intersection,” adding that safety and public health are some of the few things that the planning board gets to weigh in on regarding a 40B project.
“We’d like to see a study on that and how it improves the score of that intersection,” Mr. Fox said.
The board is asking for more information and is compiling the points from its discussion before bringing them back to its May 11 meeting, prior to presenting them to the ZBA.