Falmouth Planning Board Votes Against Proposed Zoning Change

To preserve local businesses, an article that would make it easier for smaller fast food restaurants to open in Falmouth by allowing them in light industrial zones was opposed by the Falmouth Planning Board at its meeting last Tuesday.

Article 9 on the Spring Town Meeting warrant asks Town Meeting voters to allow fast food restaurants with no drive-through windows, no more than 4,000 square feet and which occupy no more than one-third of a structure be allowed to move into light Industrial A zones.

Members voted unanimously to oppose the article.

Board member Richard K. Latimer spoke fervently against the article.

“Any time a national chain comes into a community, it takes more money out of the town than it puts back in,” he said. He referenced the Cape Cod Commission’s decision to keep a Lowe’s home improvement store from setting up shop in Dennis. The owner of a McDonald’s or Burger King or a Lowe’s, he said, will take the profit to their home elsewhere in the country. Mom and pop stores in Falmouth, he said, will suffer as a result.

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Board chairman Patricia H. Kerfoot spoke against the article, saying that it was created to benefit one location or individual. “It goes against the grain,” she said. She added that the town already lacks space for Industrial A zones. “These places would take up the already limited space we have for industry,” she said. “It might take away from something like 3D printing.”

Light industrial A zones include lumberyards, the Falmouth Technology Park, a development that includes Rocky’s Gym on East Falmouth Highway, the Homeport development, and the Lawrence-Lynch Corporation site.

Attorney Robert H. Ament of Falmouth submitted the article because, he said, light industrial zones often have busy workers with limited time for lunch. To buy a quick breakfast or lunch before returning to work without traveling would be advantageous for them. “Why make them travel farther?” he asked.

One of the reasons for the article is to move a Dunkin’ Donuts now in North Falmouth down the road to Silver Square. The Silver Square venue would be better suited for parking and traffic issues, the owner stated.

Board member James E. Fox said fast food franchises would hinder the town’s architectural character. “It won’t be Cape Cod,” he said. “It’ll look more like Florida.”

Board member Ralph E. Herbst said that the modified fast food restaurants would be too big at 4,000 square feet. “The only thing I see to endorse this is to reduce driving for lunch or breakfast,” he said. “We did not receive testimony from industrial zone workers.”

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