Planners approve new, 4-story building in Falmouth Shopping Center

Planners approve new, 4-story building in Falmouth Shopping Center

Members of the Falmouth Planning Board unanimously approved a new multi-use building in the Falmouth Shopping Center last week. Contributed / Town of Falmouth

FALMOUTH — The Planning Board unanimously approved plans for a new four-story building at Falmouth Shopping Center on Feb. 2.

Chase Bank will occupy part of the first floor at the south end of the plaza between the gazebo and Bath Savings Institute at 251 US Route 1, with a new, unidentified restaurant possibly in the remaining ground floor space. Offices are planned for the second through fourth floors.

This is the second development of its type coming to Falmouth Shopping Center.

A four-story building was approved in summer 2020. Development of that building, located near the Bucknam Road and Route 1 intersection, had been on hold because an unnamed restaurant owner slated to move in hesitated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chase Bank development application came back to the board Feb. 2 for reconsideration after the board requested a peer review for lighting, landscaping and architecture at the Route 1 project.

An architect’s rendering of an addition to the Falmouth Shopping Center that will house a bank and offices. Archetype Architects

Town Engineer Justin Early said in a Jan. 25 email that his concerns have been addressed about the stormwater management plan and the addition of a ramp from the sidewalk to a crosswalk that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District noted that there is adequate capacity in the drainage system at the shopping center to accommodate the development and there should be no adverse effects downstream.

There was no comment from either planning board members or the public at the meeting on the application. However, former councilor Bonny Rodden, who chaired the council committee that wrote the 2013 zoning ordinance for the village center, had voiced concerns earlier in the process about the project.

In a Jan. 28 letter to the board, Rodden urged planners to reconsider multiple aspects of the site plan, with a focus on the style of the architecture.

“I understand how difficult it will be to require the developer to make changes this late in the game, but in the end the community will benefit,” Rodden said. “Developers of future buildings will realize they must be true to the Village Center ordinance and spirit, rather than creating a hodge-podge of stand-alone buildings.”

According to Bruce Munger of HNTB, the infrastructure firm on the project, both buildings still require traffic movement permits from the Maine Department of Transportation prior to receiving certificates of occupancy.

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