Residential growth and density are a significant concern for Falmouth residents. There are impacts to the entire community and in specific neighborhoods. Clearly, the 2016 zoning amendments have had an impact and the Town Council is currently working on solutions to lessen the impact of growth on Falmouth.
The Town of Falmouth School Department staff have reviewed statements and claims made by the group "Save Falmouth" regarding the impact housing growth has had on the schools. Click here to review the Falmouth School Department's response to those claims. FMI and questions about this response, please contact Geoff Bruno, School Superintendent at 781-3200 or email@example.com
Town staff have also reviewed information Save Falmouth is disseminating describing unprecedented town growth since 2016. That group’s housing growth data is correct based on selective data points; however, they are relying on data that applies to homes that are exempt from the Town’s growth cap. Please see the bulleted information below to understand the whole data set.
- Since 2016, 70 homes were built at OceanView (age restricted retirement community) and 19 units built at Blackstone (affordable senior housing development on Depot Road). This type of housing is exempted from the cap by the Falmouth Town Council because it serves specific needs for affordability and/or an aging population. Town officials do not consider this type of development a demand on the School Department or other Town resources. Town officials are unaware of any significant citizen concerns about these specific projects or this type of housing. This is contrary to the many citizen communications we have heard about growth pressures in other zones because of the 2016 zoning. Growth and density changes have concerned many people even if you disregard the number of age restricted homes. But, eliminating these from the analysis lowers the rate of growth that has an impact on town and education services.
- An annual average of 40 single family homes were constructed from 2016 – 2018, compared to an annual average of 42 single family homes during 2007 – 2015.
- Accessory Dwelling Units, referred to as accessory cottage and attached apartments prior to the 2016 zoning changes, have increased substantially from an average of 1/year from 2007 to 2015 to 9/year from 2016 to 2018. These are very small units, less than 850 square feet, and do not typically have families large enough to have any impact on the School Department. Eliminating these from the analysis, lowers the rate of growth that has an impact on town and education services.
- There were 15 single family and 17 duplex style units (i.e. 32 total residences) built in the RA, RB and RD zones between July 11, 2016, and October 2, 2018 that could not have been permitted prior to 2016. Many residents were unhappy that these units were built on smaller lots and/or with narrow lot widths that would not have been permitted prior to 2016. Residents have expressed concern about these smaller lots and duplexes and the negative impact they believe they have on the character of certain neighborhoods.
- The percentage share of total new homes being built in Falmouth has increased in the Residential zones when compared to homes built in the Farm and Forest zone.
Town officials are also aware of resident concerns that growth is occurring in places that was unexpected and unwanted. The information provided in this notice is in no way meant to diminish or suggest that resident concerns are not very real. This information is also not intended to dismiss the facts that growth has intensified during the past three years, however, it is important to understand the type of housing that has been built during this growth period.
In closing, here is a recap of what has happened since the zoning change in 2016:
- Many more duplexes (half would not have been allowed without the 2016 zoning changes)
- Much smaller lots in the Residential zones
- A spike in senior housing, which is exempt from the growth cap regulations
- A slight decrease in total number of single-family homes
- More new homes are being built in the Residential zones when compared to the Farm and Forest Zone.
- Residents are expressing great concern about growth, particularly smaller and much narrower lots, duplex units, and multi-family housing. They also are concerned that the new construction in back or side yards is changing the historic character of Falmouth’s oldest neighborhoods.
For additional questions, please contact Theo Holtwijk at 699-5340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.