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July 12, 2018

Falmouth passes on zoning change for Falmouth Center soccer complex

File photo / Maureen Milliken
File photo / Maureen Milliken
Falmouth Center developer Jonathan Cohen speaks at a public hearing before the Falmouth Town Council at a June 25 meeting.

Falmouth Town Council did not adopt a zoning change for a proposed 400,000-square-foot mixed-use complex on U.S. Route 1, instead requested a master plan for the project.

The zoning change was necessary for soccer complex, including two outdoor fields, that developer Jonathan Cohen has said is necessary for the project to success.

The request was to change 7.94 acres zoned business professional to village center 1, which would allow recreational uses. The planning board recommended July 3 the zoning change not be adopted, and that the town seek a master plan on the entire development from the developer.

Cohen and partner Joseph Soley are seeking to build the development on 40 acres that include the Falmouth Shopping Center, which the two bought in March for $21 million, as well as 11 adjacent acres were the ramp for the Maine Turnpike connector spur is. The state Department of transportation and town have been looking for a developer for the land, who would get it in exchange for moving the ramp, intersection enhancements and other upgrades.

While the build-out over the project would be over seven years, Cohen said at the June 25 hearing that the soccer complex "has to be operational next year."

"If not, they'll go elsewhere," he said.

The complex would also include retail space along Route 1, including the grassy area in front of Falmouth Center, and farther back, a hotel, offices and residential space. The soccer complex, which would belong to Seacoast United, a northern New England organization that has facilities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, would be at the center of the project and drew much of the criticism from two dozen town residents who spoke at a June 25 public hearing about the project.

Councilors said Monday multiple impact studies are needed before they can feel comfortable moving forward, according to The Forecaster.

Town Manager Nathan Poore also suggested that the council consider hiring a facilitator to mediate further discussion about the project. Councilors said they'll take that suggestion up at their July 23 meeting.

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