A revised development plan for land next to the Falmouth Shopping Center replaces a proposed hotel and multi-level parking garage with warehouse, light manufacturing and office buildings.

The owners of Falmouth Shopping Center on Route 1 have submitted a revised expansion plan for the property that they said would not require any zoning changes to develop. The “Plan B” proposal is for a smaller development, and eliminates a component of the original expansion plan to purchase and redevelop the Maine Turnpike’s Falmouth Spur ramps to Route 1.

The Falmouth Town Council met early Thursday to review and discuss both the original plan, submitted to the town in May, and the alternative plan, submitted Wednesday.

Town Council Chair Caleb Hemphill said some councilors at a prior meeting had asked the developers, Joseph Soley and Jonathan Cohen, to propose an alternative plan that would not require zoning changes to the property, which stretches across two commercial zones known as Village Center 1 and Business & Professional District.

“So the developer decided to create a potential build-out under existing zoning,” Hemphill said. “We sort of got it out of the blue and there was not much introduction to it. … It is our understanding that (the alternative plan) is not at all the preferred development option, and that the developer is still looking to build out the original plan.”

MORE OPPORTUNITIES IN PLAN A

Hemphill added that he also prefers the original plan, which he said would generate a significant amount of tax revenue for the community and provide more opportunities for businesses and residents.

When Soley and Cohen announced their project in May, they described it as encompassing sports and fitness facilities, walking trails, restaurants featuring outside dining, brew pubs, entertainment venues, small retail stores, office and medical space, a pet-friendly atmosphere, a village green, hotels and housing for ages 55 and over.

The “Plan B” proposal submitted Wednesday replaces the proposed 70,000-square-foot dedicated sports complex with multi-tenant space and a 16,000-square-foot recreation center, and it eliminates a 120-room hotel and four-story, 520-space parking garage. The property’s current zoning only allows for buildings of up to 50,000 square feet.

Instead, the alternative plan features uses that are more appropriate for business and professional district zoning, such as a wholesale distribution center, warehouse, light manufacturing center and office complex. None of the proposed buildings exceeds 50,000 square feet.

OPPOSITION, AND NEED FOR BALANCE

Two outdoor soccer fields included in the original proposal remain, but they have been relocated to another part of the property. A spokeswoman for the developers said the indoor sports complex would be placed inside a smaller, multi-tenant building.

A group of residents opposed to the original expansion plan described the sports complex as its most controversial component. They noted that the proposed complex, which would be operated by Topsham-based Seacoast United Maine, would be similar to one that was rejected by the Freeport Town Council in 2012. The group is using an existing anti-development website, savefalmouth.org, to rally opposition to the project.

Hemphill said the council will have to weigh the town’s economic interests against the desire of some residents to prevent significant new growth and development in the community.

“The developer owns the property – he has lots of rights to do certain things, and the town and the council respect that,” he said. “But (we) also respect the interests of the community, and we hope to develop a mutually acceptable plan for zoning and development.”

Hemphill said the council plans to accept public comment on the two proposals at its Jan. 14 meeting. Beyond that, there is no set timeline for when the council will make a decision, he said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]com

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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