Falmouth Residents Protest Vague Plans For Hotel

Matthew Gould addresses the planning board during a hearing about a proposed hotel on Main Street.
SAM HOUGHTON/ENTERPRISE - Matthew Gould addresses the planning board during a hearing about a proposed hotel on Main Street.

Residents of Lantern Lane continue to protest vague plans developers have for a 108-room Marriott Hotel on Main Street.

The Falmouth Planning Board reviewed preliminary site plans over two hearings and will have at least one more in the near future after the board voted to extend Tuesday, June 3's hearing, when another standing-room-only crowd packed the selectmen’s meeting room in town hall.

Edward W. Kirk, an attorney representing Matthew R. Gould of Lantern Lane, said the process is out of line and more clarity is needed before the planning board approves the site plan.

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The developer, Robert Walker of Falmouth Hospitality, and Joseph D. Penzola, principal of Hancock Associates, the architect hired to design the site, are seeking approval to abandon the section of Lantern Lane that intersects with Main Street. The section of road they plan to abandon runs along a now-abandoned gravel lot, which member James E. Fox said is an eyesore to Main Street and in need of a project.

The developers have yet to file any other plans.

A letter to Falmouth’s building commissioner outlines a plan for a 108-room hotel within a 2-1/2-story structure that would stretch over Lantern Lane and feature 109 parking spaces, including 84 on the first floor of the development and the rest across the street off Nye Road in a gated parking lot.

“This is unfolding like a magic show,” Mr. Gould said of the developer’s plans. He cited concerns such as traffic and a disruption of the peaceful neighborhood as his reasons for opposing the project.

The planning board sought guidance from town counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. prior to Tuesday’s hearing. Mr. Duffy wrote a letter to the board saying the developer’s plan to abandon the road is legal.

Mr. Kirk urged the board to deny Mr. Penzola’s request to abandon the road because there is nothing indicating what would be built there.

“I don’t think it is as simple as the applicant is suggesting,” Mr. Kirk said. The rights of way of that section of the road will be in question if approved, he said, adding that a gate or some kind of barrier might block the road and an entrance for residents. He urged the board to add a covenant that continues the rights of the road for residents.

“We’re not changing the rights of way at all,” Mr. Penzola said. No structures or impediments would be made on the road and the order of the steps the developer is taking are necessary, he said.

“Our planning office has worked with the applicant and would have stopped them if it was not done correctly,” planning board chairman Patricia K. Kerfoot said. She said, however, that they will discuss the order of the process by the developer at a future meeting.

Planning board member Paul Dryer said the Cape Cod Commission should be involved with a project this large in scale. Ms. Kerfoot said that would come later in the process.

“Review what is in front of you,” town planner Brian V. Currie said.

Others in the audience expressed concern about added traffic to their neighborhood.

Kathleen C. Taylor, Morse Pond Lane, Falmouth, said the addition of a hotel would change the character of downtown. “I’m concerned, of course, in the influx of traffic,” she said. She also was concerned with drainage issues that might arise if the plans are approved.

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