“What key questions do you think should be included in the Community Survey?”. (Note: Think of questions which are important to the community fabric, economy or appeal).
Comments made via this portal are public. We expect conversations to follow the rules of polite discourse. Messages containing inappropriate content or language will be removed at the discretion of Future iQ.
For more information about the Town of Falmouth Vision and Values project, please contact:
David Beurle, CEO
Phone: (612) 757-9190
Thank you for asking for community input! I’d like to see several questions about making Falmouth more inclusive. In particular, perhaps there could be a question about expanding affordable housing in Falmouth. I’d also like to see a question about attracting members of underrepresented communities to live in Falmouth (immigrants, asylees, BIPOC). Finally, I’d like to see a question about how we can improve public transportation in Falmouth — could we make our public transportation free/heavily subsidized through taxes? Some communities do this (Park City, Utah for example) to encourage residents to use public transportation whenever possible. Thank you!
Thank you Susan for offering these important questions. I completely agree with your suggestion of including questions about increased diversity in town and the expansion of affordable housing. One additional facet to this issue is to ensure that the schools are ready to meet the needs of students from immigrant and refugee families as well as asylees. We are the legal guardians of an unaccompanied minor from Burundi. She wasn’t able to attend Falmouth schools because they do not have the language, academic and cultural supports in place to appropriately address her needs. She went to Deering HS in Portland. (She is now a senior at Bowdoin College.)
Susan – thanks for you comments. Yes, locations like Park City can offer some interesting lessons – FYI we have been visioning project there, and can share some of their innovation.
I look forward to this project.
I would like to see questions regarding walkability – not just for exercise but also for alternative transportation. How important is it that there are crosswalks, sidewalks, walking paths, bike lanes and signage in Falmouth?
Hello Maribeth – yes; great comment. Most communities we are working with are really exploring the multi-modal concepts. This is part of a larger shift in societal expectations I think. For sure this topic will be recurrent in the visioning and I assume the following Comprehensive Planning processes.
Knowing the growth in the Greater Portland region and escalating home costs in Falmouth, what would we like Falmouth to look like in 20 years?
For sure that is something we will explore – I think this trend is likely to be one of the future-shaping issues for Falmouth
I think the future of Rte 88 is a key question for Falmouth. Will it continue to be a busy, noisy and potentially dangerous commuter route that many people use to avoid the Rte 1 traffic lights, or will the Falmouth community reclaim it as a neighborhood road that connects many residential streets as areas together and that could be a valued, safe and attractive community asset?
An organization is dependent on the quality of its leadership. Strong organizations have vibrant and wise leaders. How can a town perpetuate a vision of leadership into the future? How do we maintain and continue to attract the best in town management? How do we encourage the best of our community to serve as Councilors?
Interesting thought Scott – this could even be expanded to examine what a community needs to be doing to constantly evolve and remain current with trends in societal values and expectations. Thank you for the comment
Where’s the survey? I click “register” and I get and ERROR message. What’s up?
Jack – thanks for picking up that error. That was a function we had not activated, so we have hidden it for now. The community survey will be drafted after we get some more community input and feedback on this Discussion Board. The full survey is likely to be launched in mid November. Thanks
How is the community tackling equality and inclusion with the LGBTQ+ community that goes beyond a statement of support and provides action and education?
Falmouth (and Maine) has always been predominantly white community. I would love to see questions about diversity (racial, religious, economic to name a few) on the Vision & Values Survey.
Some agree/disagree rating questions could be:
-I would like to see more racial diversity in the town of Falmouth
-I would like to see more religious diversity in the town of Falmouth
-I would like to see more economic diversity in the town of Falmouth
-I think BIPOC people would feel welcomed in the town of Falmouth
-I think LGBTQ+ people would feel welcomed in the town of Falmouth
-I think the town of Falmouth does a good job of acknowledging the Indigenous people who were on this land before us.
-I think that a person with any type of financial background can make a life for themselves in Falmouth and thrive in this community.
Hello Audrey – Good topic – we find that in visioning projects almost always there is a strong theme about what I would call the social fabric in a community. Your suggestions questions are very specific, so we might elevate these to a broader theme about the societal evolution in Falmouth – and the topic of inclusion. Thank you for the suggestions.
Thank you, David, for your response and reference to the theme of social fabric in these surveys. And for guiding our community through this process!
I do believe that specificity between the different categories I listed is important – inclusion as an umbrella for race, religion, orientation and economic identities falls short. Not sure how others feel about this, would love to hear more feedback, but I do believe that specificity is crucial for clarity.
I think you should ask the community whether the comprehensive plan should be allow to be overwritten by the planning board.
Also, what kind of growth (in number of new homes per year) makes sense.
Finally, should growth be focused on one area of the town or spread over the entire town, more or less equitably.
Great comments Bob – I do think the rural / urban mix is showing up a major issue for discussion in the community. We will explore some of these ideas, especially across neighborhoods in the community.
Our tradition of fiscal and management prudence,
Our desire to move the local economy forward;
encouraging business development and expansion to the
benefit of all residents,
Our recognition that demographics are changing with the
“graying of America” and population diversity, and
Our long passion and commitment to open space.
Thanks Jim – all right on target – getting the balance right is critical
First of all, I think your deadlines are neither realistic and appropriate if you want to have a survey that does a good job of assessing community vision and values. Rather the survey seems to being constructed from a top-down approach and not involving residents directly through a series of steps. If it sounds like I have done this before, it is because I have worked in survey research for over 30 years and teach this topic at the graduate level. First, you should be holding a series of focus groups with a number of representative samples from the community- eliciting from them their major concerns about growth and the future of Falmouth.
Questions such as What do you want to see for housing in Falmouth? Do you want more affordable housing for those who are low income? Should there be developments with duplexes, if so, how many? How about apartments or condominiums, should we encourage the growth of these types of residences within the community, and if so, where should we encourage their growth (along route 1; route 88; route 100?)?
Should create more community-residences for the elderly? How should we grow the property tax base to support the town? Should we attempt to create more of a town center with public buildings surrounded by commercial and high density (e.g., apartments) residential buildings, if so where should this be done?
Should the town attempt to create a commercial (shops and restaurants) and high-density residential area next to Casco Bay. Should the town attempt to pull in more tourism including hotels? What are the most important features of the town that you like and enjoy? What are the things about the town that you dislike and would like to see changed? Do you think town government does a good job respresentating the values of the residents of the town? If not, what would you do differently to improve the situation?
I agree with all of these questions. And yes we need time to make sure all the survey questions and opportunities to contribute are seen by as many as possible in a wide time frame. I do not have experience in knowing how long , my thought is 8-12 weeks before people get on board and weigh in.
Hello Joel – actually this discussion board is just collecting input for the construction of the survey. We anticipate having the initial community issues survey open for at least a month, and probably longer. Just a note, that this will be one of a number of opportunities for the community to have input. We are planning focus groups a bit further down the track, but wanted to kick off with an online survey – especially given the public health requirements / concerns at the moment. Over the next 6 + months, we hope to offer numerous platforms and options for people to weight in with ideas. Thank you also for the suggested questions.
How can the town do a better job protecting the character of our remaining unique waterfront neighborhoods?
Thank you Judith
Thanks for this, Judith! Is it possible for the town to consider, as part of this process, clearer, less subjective language in Conditional Use ordinances relating to scale, bulk and views in the Water View Overlay District?
Following up on Jennifer’s comment, I’d like to see the Town Council do some “best practices” research as to how similar waterfront communities technically administer water view rulings. Here’s an example from Michigan: https://www.miplace.org/4a14eb/globalassets/documents/rrc/rrc-guide-waterfronts.pdf
My husband and I would also like to see this issue addressed.
What businesses and hours of operation should we encourage to move to Falmouth?
Should new commercial developments be required to have a larger buffer / green zone between them and residential areas?
Should we encourage LEAD builds and sustainable commercial developments?
How do we encourage electric vehicle charge stations?
Do we need ordinances in place to control charge stations?
I love these questions Deirdre. I would have asked them myself if you had not.
Are taxpayers receiving good relative value municipal services?
Do taxpayers perceive that proactive steps being taken to ameliorate the current and anticipated increases in property tax burden?
Do business owners perceive a partnering approach working with town representatives?
Is the Vision and Values Project sufficiently broad to model the impacts of development, codes, zoning and related regulatory options?
Are you in favor of current zoning that allows multifamily housing to be built in neighborhoods comprised of mostly single family homes?
Where should Falmouth be in 10 years, 20 years, longer?
Are there areas of Falmouth that should be zoned for development which are not and are there areas which should be zoned for non-development which are not?
What are the most important things that Town Council should have on their work plan?
What is the most important place for the town to spend its’ money?
Are there any places that the town is wasting its’ money?
How can we make all areas of the town (east and west) more safely accessible to cyclists, pedestrians, and runners?
How can we encourage litter reduction along our roadsides?
lets get the marijuana committee active and pursuing zoning to allow. it is legal and the town should not block its citizens of their right. further, the pandemic is wreaking havoc on commercial real estate and landlords would welcome the opportunity for these new businesses to fill in spaces that have become vacant due to the pandemic.
Do we want more sidewalks / bike paths like we have close to the town landing? It’s nice being able to walk / bike on a safe place instead of by the road.
Some possible overarching, open-ended questions could include: What are Falmouth’s current strengths as a community? What do you like most and least about living here? What do you see as problem areas or opportunities for improvement? What three challenges do you see as the most important for Falmouth to address in the coming years? What concrete ideas do you have for addressing those challenges? What are the biggest threats and pressures we face as a community? How would you like Falmouth to look and feel in the coming years? What 3 changes would most improve quality of life here in Falmouth? What community resources do you like and dislike, and what resources does Falmouth lack?
And more specific questions on particular topics like: environmental protection, health care, land use, infrastructure, transportation/commuting, bike and pedestrian ways, education, food security, jobs, diversity, growth, planning and zoning, green space, public lands and access, harbor and shoreline considerations, working waterfront/marine industries, wildlife corridors, energy efficiency, etc. For example: What types of businesses, growth and development would you like to see (and not see) and in what locations? What additional conservation areas and/or public recreation areas would you like to see? Are there additional public programs, facilities, or events that are needed or desired? How would you rate Falmouth on its protection of natural resources (water quality, air quality, forests, wetlands)? Where are changes or improvements needed to roads, sidewalks, bikeways?….
Excellent questions…especially the open ended ones you posed at the beginning of your response.
Some questions that I would like included are:
1. Would you like open spaces/Falmouth land trust trails to be interconnected if at all possible?
2. Would you be interested in the town/Falmouth land trust acquiring land at the Falmouth shopping center to connect with the Falmouth nature preserve and land being acquired near Johnson road?
3. What type of zoning should be established for Route One North/Falmouth shopping center – are there size/height restrictions that should be established? What types of businesses should be allowed? What types of restrictions should be imposed to protect mussel cove and mill creek and the flora and fauna that inhabit those areas, if any?
4. West Falmouth is seeing increasing development, how should that zoning be changed?
5. Overall, should there be a more strict limit on development to maintain open space?
6. Has COVID led to any changes in the way you envision our community today and into the future?
7. Do you feel that Falmouth is a pedestrian/bike friendly community? If not, what changes would you like to see for improvement?
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process. Amanda Henson
What kinds of gathering and public spaces do we want to preserve or create in order to foster community in the coming years?
How do we envision our connection with and preservation of natural spaces and wildlife in Falmouth in the future?
Work has begun to create walkable and bike-able spaces in Falmouth. How can we best continue this work, and how can we foster a community where a variety of modes of travel are used and welcome/safe?
Excellent and thoughtful questions.
How will Falmouth manage traffic on main roads?
I hope there will be a question about preserving land. It seems like the town is keen on developing every speck of land. Also on not raising taxes and keeping our ocean and rivers clean.
Improving beach/water access for beachgoers and boaters would enhance the quality of life here. Can we enhance the town landing area?
How do we create a vision that invites new residents and new business to invest in Falmouth Future? Do we need non residents input?
How important is it to have safe pedestrian walkways that connect parts of the town?
How important are preserved lands for public access?
In m mind, the two most important things to ensure are the preservation of woodlands and trails and the limitation of large-scale development projects. I would like to maintain our small town status.
I totally agree, we should be trying to maintain the small town attributes that attracted us to Falmouth in the first place. We don’t want to be the next Westbrook or Portland. We need to ensure that our rule makers are town residents who do not have a business stake in the community (developers, real estate agents, etc.). Small growth is to be expected but it should be moderated and stay within the characteristics of a rural (suburban) town.
1) where should commercial development be encouraged and to what extent? should commercial development be encouraged in order to off-set or stabilize residential property tax rates?
2) Should Falmouth be a town of primarily single family homes?
3) What value does Falmouth place on having a varied housing stock (large and small single family, attached or two-family, apartments attached to homes, multi-dwelling buildings)?
4) Is there any section of Falmouth in which multi-family units should be available? rental or owner occupied? multi-story, two-story (e.g. town house), or single story (garden apartment style)?
5) should future residential development be encouraged in all zones of town? If so, to the same extent throughout town? Should increased residential development be encouraged at all?
6) Should Falmouth limit “sprawl”? If so, how?
7) What value does Falmouth place on having a variety of price points in its housing stock? Having affordable housing? “entry level” housing? rental housing? senior housing? Should any of these be limited to specific areas of town?
8) Should Falmouth be planning to extend sidewalks throughout all sections and neighborhoods in town? Should bike lanes/wide shoulders be planned for all roads?
9) Does Falmouth wish to encourage residential developments on traditional cul-de-sacs or should roadway connectivity be: a) encouraged? b) required?
10) What role does Falmouth play within the Greater Portland region? What role does Falmouth want to play in the region? Bedroom community/suburb? Suburb with a small town feel (central business districts, destination businesses for others in the region such as restaurants, retail shops)? Destination for outdoor activities (hiking, biking, skating)?
11) should Falmouth permit or limit multi-use development (residential and commercial together)? If so, where?
12) what does it mean to have “rural character”? Does Falmouth wish to have some portion of town have that character?
These are all great questions Karen. I especially applaud the question about how to make Falmouth a more walkable/bike-able town with side walks and bike lanes.
I’d like to ask questions like: who are we and what do we want to be known for? I hope we are known for how we preserve and protect our open and public spaces (existing and future lands); are there other ways to generate revenue for the town, such as creating a destination for tourists like an outdoor sculpture park, a botanical garden or zen/healing garden, a unique museum, etc.? Why don’t we have a post office and community center with a theatre? A community chorus? A town swimming pool? The things that make a town a town where people gather and get to know each other. . .; How do we align with and get on board with the climate pact that Portland and S Portland and Biddeford are leading the charge on? How do we attract and welcome a more diverse community?
I absolutely love these questions!
I can think of town-wide projects in the Falmouth’s history that were elevating and community building. Anyone who participated in building the Maze Craze will vouch for that. I would like to see community building projects that are akin to modern day barn raising. Projects that bring us together– with talent, rolled up sleeves, and the best kind of unity.
Great process for listening, thank you. I think it would benefit to understand where residents stand on a continuum between potentially contrasting lifestyle choices that can help guide choices: Residential tranquility vs. urban amenities; low taxes vs. high town services; private v. neighborly setting; single family housing v. diverse development; volunteering v. hiring services; others?
I’d like to see thought/policy/guidance on short-term AirBnB-type rentals.
I would like to see a question centered around the feasibility of bringing in quality businesses that could help alleviate some of the tax burden on homeowners and at the same time, not having Falmouth lose its identify. Controlled growth, if you will. I appreciate the opportunity for input- thanks.
Affordable housing, climate change and instituting a ban on ALL plastic bags need to be included.
How important is it for Falmouth to continue limiting the annual number of building permits for new housing units of all types?
Is it important enough to meet comprehensive planning requirements for focusing the majority of future growth in limited areas of the community (designated growth areas) rather than allowing it to spread throughout town?
George – this is a key repeated theme – obviously an important issue in this community. Thank you
I would love to see if there is interest for a community garden with plots for resident use & possibly a second with volunteers to plant & care for vegetables for a local food bank for people in need of help.
I question just how productive this comment/forum is actually achieving it’s intended goal. The 2013 Comprehensive Plan contains over 150 pages addressing a gamut of topics from open space, residential growth, schools to environmental impacts.
The Country, State and yes Falmouth, are faced with serious financial shortfalls.
Keep all of this in mind when posting your questions, and the cause and effects.
Rapid residential growth has negative impacts on schools, residents aging in place, open space and the environment. The water quality of Highland Lake has been in jeopardy for years and the coastline has been closed to shellfish harvesting for over a decade.
My question is simple yet complicated to answer; How much of Falmouth’s small Town Character and Charm are you willing to sacrifice and at what cost. ?
I think it’s important to include facts/material data points to give practical context for responses. I also suggest grouping related questions under topics. I’m hoping that the survey that determines the vision will have enough questions to support the variety of neighborhoods/identities that none I’m aware of want to homogenize.
Tax impacts are critical as millions of households and businesses are reeling from the pandemic and/or unprecedented and unrelenting natural disasters, not to mention predictions that the debt we have accumulated will start to take its toll in the coming decade. Inevitably when individuals, couples or families “vision,” e.g., dream of where they want to live, type/size of home, model car, how many children, which school… financial considerations are a grounding factor sobering up the vision so it can become a reality without sinking livlihoods.
-What percentage tax increase are you willing to support over the next 10 years [e.g., on a scale of x to y % or tied to cost of living/inflation?] Fact: Falmouth homeowners’ tax, on average, has increased x% since 2010.
-How important is it that Falmouth’s administrative costs be in line with Maine towns of similar size? Fact: The cost of top three Falmouth staff is W: York is X; Kennebunk is Y; Orono is Z.
-How much of a tax increase to support new enrollment and associated costs do you support?
Fact: To support x more students over next 10 years, an estimated x in new tax dollars will be needed.
-How much do you support tax relief for seniors to they can age in place in Falmouth
Fact: Provide a data point
“Neighborhood zoning/housing diversity”
How many affordable housing units do you support construction of over the next decade?
How willing are you to subsidize these units?
Do you support using town-owned land for this purpose?
Do you support construction of affordable housing in specially zoned areas?
How much new construction of multi-family units do you support over the next 10 years?
Do you support widening rural/commuter/state roads to support associated new traffic?
Fact: The addition of x new housing units means an estimated y more cars on Falmouth roads.
“Preserving Falmouth’s character”
Do you favor reducing Falmouth’s residential growth rate to preserve its townlike character?
Do you support subzones within current districts to maintain the unique character of distinct neighborhoods?
Do you support architectural guidelines to preserve the character of individual neighborhoods?
How important is it to maintain agricultural enterprises over the next decade?
How important is it to restore shellfish harvesting over the next decade?
How important is it to keep the main “rural” commuter routes, e.g., Falmouth Road, Middle Road, rural/residential?
What types of additional businesses would you like to see?
What types of additional recreational facilities would you like to see?
What type of financing of the recreational facilities you would like to see?
Do you support adding privately funded cultural destinations, in keeping with Falmouth’s character and neighborhoods, that would support the tax base, e.g., sculpture park, botanical garden, outdoor concert venue
Great content here Joy – thank you. Some of these are pretty specific and granular – and will be excellent questions for later in the planning process. We will look for a way to tie some of these topics into the larger buckets of issues and vision level questions – some great thoughts you have laid out.
The previous comments offer up numerous excellent questions. Rather than add to those, I have two opinions to share:
#1. As we should all know, the answers we get are often skewed by the framing of the questions. Therefore, as Lisa Joy stated earlier, it is it is imperative that questions about the future of the town “include facts/material data points to give practical context for responses.” This cannot be stressed enough. We cannot clearly determine where we are going if do not clearly understand where we are.
#2. It is my understanding that the window of time for resident input and suggestions for questions on the Vision & Value survey is essentially one week (until next week’s Council meeting). I hope I am wrong about this, but that would be an utterly inadequate amount of time to elicit a broad range of representative questions and concerns from the public. We are still working through a pandemic, the Council meetings are still virtual, and we are in the middle of a highly contentious election. So we’re all distracted, masked up, and we can’t meet in-person with our elected representatives. That is NOT a good environment for citizen participation in this process. The only way this process will be fair and open, and be viewed as such by the residents, is if you give this the time and breadth of interaction required to fully gauge the concerns and wishes of the residents. Please SLOW DOWN.
Maybe some more basic questions that may not seem to answer the primary inquiry here, but speak to the credibility and effectiveness of this effort:
1. When was the last time the town conducted a similar survey, and what did it accomplish based on the feedback it received? An update on actions taken and outcomes delivered based on that previous survey’s feedback would be terrific.
2. Survey methodology, as you know, matters in shaping the constitution of the audience you reach, hence the voices and perspectives you gather. As a resident of Falmouth and not Nextdoor USA, I can’t help but wonder how many residents would love to share in the crafting of a vision that will affect them, but will never be included in this process because they are not on Nextdoor? How else is Falmouth reaching out to ensure all are included and truly have a voice?
3. Finally and maybe most relevant to the topic, have a truly independent organization audit Falmouth’s institutions, policies and practices to understand how these may be implicitly or otherwise keeping Falmouth from being a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive community. From education, housing, and transportation to administration, economic, law enforcement and justice system. Not offering an opinion on any of the institutions, policies, or practices. Merely recomending we get an unbiased, factual assessment to understand how well we are doing as a community. Are our property tax structure and policies for example akin to redlining? Our school system ranks well on academic metrics, but how does it do on social dimensions such as diversity, equity, and inclusion if their goal is to educate the total person, including important social skills such as compassion, caring, service, and emotional intelligence and not just English and Math? Hard to get anywhere if we don’t know where we are.
Kossi – some great thoughts here – one thing we will be working hard on in this visioning process is multiple options and ways for people to input. This is really critical to help engage and reach sections of the community that might not typically get / or be able to be involves. And this spans the gamut of retirees to young people, and access geographic neighborhoods and social groups. We have been kicking around the idea of ‘Neighborhood Connectors’ to help reach as many people as possible.
I would love to see the traffic patterns addressed. I realize that we have 295, 95 , Rte.1, Rte. 100 all running through the town but it would be nice if there was some way of diverting commuter traffic. It may involve another onramp somewhere. We keep growing but don’t factor in that so are surrounding communities. Thank you.
The questions asked of all the Falmouth residents must be formulated in such a way as to learn what specific direction they, and they alone, want Falmouth to move in the next 10+ years. The questions must also accurately state the tax consequences of any proposed changes
Some examples would be:
1) How do you see Falmouth at this time? The range could be from a bedroom community to an integral part of the Portland Metropolitan area.
2) What about Falmouth influenced your move or return to Falmouth? The range could include open spaces, a rural feel, or escape from urban settings to a good place to find work, find affordable housing, or because I love dense housing.
3) Is it acceptable to have a town that is different from other towns in the greater Portland area?
4) Do we need to be self-sufficient or is it OK to rely on adjacent communities for sport, entertainment, or cultural events? Can we just live in Falmouth and work in towns nearby?
5) Are we being selfish to think more locally than regionally? Should charity begin at home?
Leland – thank you for the questions / suggestions. I think the idea of exploring the place of Falmouth in the regional context is important, especially with proximity to Portland.
As a person who has lived in North-West Falmouth and seen the changes made to develop West Falmouth into a commercial area I would like to see Falmouth encourage some specific development in this area. Such as: a gas station/small convenience store in the West Falmouth area either on Blackstrap or Route 100 would be nice. There are no places like that unless you go to Windham or Cumberland for gas. No convenience stores in Cumberland or this area either. Could Falmouth encourage this development, making an exception if zoning is not allowing it?
Also missing from this area is a hotel/motel. With the Maine TurnpikeExit 53 onto Route 100 there should be a place for people to stay such as a motel. Could the town encourage this development?
Falmouth would also benefit from a public pool and it would be nice if it could be in a more general location than Route 1. The Route 1 has all the ice arenas, movie theaters, stores, and library. The sports fields are near the schools and also off Winn Road, a location around there or near the Town Office would be more centrally located. Any chance that could happen? In my opinion a great deal of attention is given to the Route 1 and Route 88 area, I think the town needs to diversify into other areas more and our tax dollars would be more evenly distributed.
This vibrant community needs an indoor pool. Our children deserve a pool! To expect them to use a pool in another city for competitive reasons is ludicrous. Our families deserve better. Many families reside in CE or other towns for this reason. We live next to an ocean and have many bodies of water in our state. Children need to learn to swim as a benefit of being safe around water. This should be part of the vision for the Falmouth planning committee.
You should research Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundary plan. In essence, everything inside the boundary is zoned for specific, unappealable uses and everything outside is farmland, open space or untouchable. They have used this for nearly 50 years and it has worked out exceedingly well. It’s a win-win for everybody. Developers have total clarity what they can or can’t build. Citizens participate in the development of the rezoning plan. Uncertainty about how the future will look is minimized.
Historically New England small town comprehensive planning has paid more in lip service than achieving satisfactory results. The best example is the fact that nearly every New England small town comprehensive plan similar to Falmouth clearly states a desire for the development and preservation of affordable housing. Subsequently any proposal to develop affordable housing is not only ignored but prevented by towns’ and/or citizens’actions.
I believe the best way to reconcile competing and opposing interests of Falmouth’s residents is to adopt a truly comprehensive plan following the track record of desirable towns like Bend, Oregon. Once enacted, land earmarked for uses such as affordable housing will actually get developed as such.
Hello Geoffrey – yes; very familiar with the urban growth boundary concept (we do a lot of work in Oregon too). The Comprehensive Planning is intended to follow the initial visioning process, which will last some 6-9 months (bit dependent on some decision points associated with community gatherings etc). We are seeing some good innovations in comprehensive planning, and the concept of identifying ‘Character Areas’ in a community seems to be an excellent tool for residents to articulate how different areas of a community (or neighborhoods) could evolve and how it all fits together. Thanks for the comments.
A discussion of impact fees would be helpful. Also, how many building permits should be issued annually – to maintain town character for traffic and open space, as well as to allow infrastructure (schools, sewage treatment, police/fire) to keep pace.
The above report is a striking reality check. We need to be fiscally reserved as we look at the coming decade. This is not a decade to indulge spending. It is an unprecedented uncertain time. The NPR article is only one aspect of it.
Falmouth has beautiful shorelines, many rivers and beautiful farmland and woods. The major retail business section of Town has been on Route 1 area, primarily. The West Falmouth area, around Route 100 is being developed for more retail business growth and housing development. Falmouth has also an extensive public lands for all citizens to utilize. Will Falmouth encourage and support lower income housing? In both the Route 1 and Route 100 areas? Will Falmouth encourage major business development in Route 1 and Route 100 areas? Having a balanced and diverse areas of town could help while protecting the shoreline, farms and woods should be important for the health of Falmouth.
Thanks Gale – appreciated
Affordable housing is a need. More commercial development along route 1, and 100. Restaurants and more businesses to support our tax base.
Thanks for the opportunity to suggest questions.
I would have appreciated some sample “themes” or sample questions from Future IQ to inform this process. Because the wording of survey questions can easily skew a participants response, I am hoping residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on the final draft of questions.
I am hopeful that this process does not return some “pie in the sky” wish list without the costs and trade-offs of such outcomes having been part of the conversation. We can all dream of a “perfect” Falmouth with rainbows and unicorns, but dreams have a price. If trade-offs and costs are not included, the survey will not accurately reflect resident’s desires.
Growth is not inevitable, as Town Hall has stated numerous times. Growth can be limited, and should be to limit growth’s impact on our wonderful schools, traffic, open space etc. Remember, growth equates to higher taxes and the Comp Plan is the tool to limit and manage appropriate growth that will not drive up our taxes unfettered.
One last note: I am concerned with the security of this online forum. As far as I can tell, there is no way to tell any of these posts are from actual residents of Falmouth. And there is no way to “slice and dice” the responses based on age, residential zone, or “stakeholder” status (resident, developer, business owner etc.) – something that has been promised repeatedly by councilors Trickett and Kuhn and is crucial so that Resident input is most heavily weighted. It does not appear that will be the case in this venue…
My Suggested Questions:
1. What percentage tax increase are you willing to support over the next ten years? (5%-15%)
2. Would you support constraining any tax increases to the CPI?
3. Do you favor reducing Falmouth’s residential growth rate to preserve Falmouth’s town like character?
4. On a scale of 1-10, do you support the Town of Falmouth (your tax dollars) subsidizing “Affordable Housing”? (1-10)
5. How likely are you to support an “Affordable Housing” development in your neighborhood? (1-10)
6. Would you support architectural standards for future development (both residential and commercial)?
7. Would you support neighborhood zoning to preserve your neighborhood’s character?
8. Should residential growth be encouraged by allowing urban like zoning?
8. Should residential growth be encouraged at all?
9. Should Falmouth prioritize encouraging commercial growth over residential growth to stabilize our tax base?
10. Are you happy with the quality of life in Falmouth?
This is not a comprehensive list of my questions. I will wait for the next iteration until suggesting others.
Thank you Valentine – lots of pithy questions there. Some of these are pretty granular and will certainly be useful for later in the process. I do think your comments about speed and trajectory of growth are very important and you can see this concern reflected in many comments on this board. We will work out a way to explore this in the survey. Just as a sidebar – the survey won’t aim to skew results – we are seeking the communities thoughts – but obviously we do need to have a methodological framework so we can continue to understand desire, alignment and where there are diverging views. Thank for the comments and suggestions
Surveys that merely ask questions without putting them in context end up with severely skewed results. Otherwise you are asking people about things that may be desirable, but not giving them any data to actually make an informed choice.
For example, it’s hard to imagine anyone not desiring more open spaces. But if that same question is posed in context (by adding, for example, the amount of open space Falmouth currently has, and information about the yearly cost of maintaining that space) you will get different answers.
In their own homes, nobody makes a decision without understanding impacts. I fear that without data accompanying survey questions, you will conclude that there is overwhelming support for many initiatives that would have far different outcomes if the survey respondents were given data to balance personal tax impact with desirability.
This is really the only way to get a sober “vision” and not simply pie-in-the-sky. I think poster Lisa Joy’s approach is terrific, and FutureIQ should hire her to develop this survey!
Marjorie – you are exactly right – having a vision or aspirations future is one thing – but dealing with the trade-offs in getting there is more complex. The overall process involves some initial ‘future gazing’ and thinking about values and vision the community seeks. Following steps will start to wrestle with the trade-offs and velocity of change. Also, at Future iQ we are very supportive of what we call foresight and data driven approaches – so I think you will see your concerns addressed as we roll out the visioning work. Thank you for your comment
Susan – thanks for you comments. Yes, locations like Park City can offer some interesting lessons – FYI we have been visioning project there, and can share some of their innovation.
Falmouth is a rapidly changing community, and “change” certainly can be OK. But it needs to be managed in ways to meet needs and desires of community members. Clearly, we can’t go back to the rural-type town of yester years nor should we. But we can influence future direction in terms of type and degree of changes. Many issues that need to be address include:
Growth: how much, what types, and what are the impacts on infrastructure and costs? For example, West Falmouth is experiencing unprecedented housing developments. Three are under construction, others have been completed and more are planned. These impact traffic particularly Route 100 and Blackstrap roads, which are already heavily traveled commuter roads primarily to Portland. Importantly they also can negatively impact infrastructure costs. A simple example are the heavy construction vehicles that routinely travel Blackstrap road, which frequently has to be repaired and repaved and certainly not because of light business and passenger vehicles.
Fiscal: to what degree are community members willing and able to pay for changes? With change, inevitably will come increased costs. Reasonable costs-increases that are consistent with inflation are to be expected and manageable. As costs rise to higher levels, however, there may be a point where community members, particularly those with fixed incomes, will be forced to leave Falmouth. Town leaders needs to focus more on containing these increases to ensure that the town is affordable to all community members.
Vision: what vision do we have of Falmouth as a community in 10, 25 and 50 years? For example, this could include quality of life in terms of services, open space, affordable taxes, housing and businesses. Will it be a suburb of Portland or a stand-alone community with its own unique values? Will it be viewed as one of the country’s best places to live for kids, middle agers and retirees? Key questions as we wrestle with what we want the future of Falmouth to be!
Bruce – good structure of these thoughts – thank you
I am very impressed that the community has come together with so many varied questions that can be used, in some form, in the survey. I think it is important for survey questions to be as specific as possible. As an example, there have been many suggestions about making Route 88 safer for bikers and pedestrians. But survey questions should be more focused such as: To make Route 88 safer, do you support lowering the speed limit? Should the town widen bike lanes by buying land from adjacent property owners using the power of imminent domain?
I agree that pie-in-the -sky questions are ineffective
The comments below are from two households working together in an attempt to add some topics that have not been mentioned as well as support others that have been mentioned.
Thanks for letting us all weigh in on the survey and post survey opportunities. Lets get more people involved in town!!
1. Do you support creating a town center where large and small events can be held, community can come together both inside and outdoor opportunities . Music, outdoor markets, annual events sponsored by groups like United Maine Craftsmen etc etc. Part two-With Public or private funds? Or both?
2.How can we be sure that long term residents get to age in place? How can Falmouth be part of getting state to allow towns to cap tax bills at a certain age for long term residents ?
3. Are you in favor of finding new ways to require taxes to remain stable?
4.How can we as a community be part of finding creative and important ways to educate the whole person and see that our schools and town is not driven by narrow parameters that drive ratings/ metrics ?
5.Are you in favor of having a say in distilling how we are taxed on our properties to be more fair in general as well as “credit” of some kind for long term residents or residents that use less services?
6. How do residents influence the financial burdens placed on them from multiple types of taxes and fees?
7. Do you want to weigh in on how the town is spending money in an easier way than the annual budget conversations at town council level? Or attending a town council meeting? How can residents help and feel they have influence on spending?
8. Are you in favor of more ways town residents can influence town decisons beyond attending town council meetings, or writing a letter to councilors? if so how?
9.Should certain staff members that work for the town of Falmouth be required to be residents of Falmouth? If so which positions? Or should there be a % of staff that reside in Falmouth? Example: Minimum 50%
10.What matters most to you about falmouth from the list below:
Living in a safe community. Having engaged police and fire departments?
Feel engaged and part of the decisions made in Falmouth in easy and important ways.
Keeping the taxes flat?or a cap on increases over a certain period?
Having a community Center where we engage with each other, have fun and interesting events.
An integrated balanced land use plan that includes areas for commercial and residential growth and limitations .
Commercial ordinances that encourage certain businesses that residents want ( and are relooked at every two years).
Residential ordinances that encourage diversity of types of housing in certain areas and limit growth in certain areas either by restricting how often developments can happen or density limitations.
Feeling a sense of community and understanding how and where residents of Falmouth can be part of this community.
Environmental visioning and focus in Falmouth.
The outdoor opportunities available in Falmouth.
Entertainment, services and social venues Falmouth offers.
Multiple Accesses to our water frontage in Falmouth.
Opportunities to Volunteer in Falmouth
Health and wellness opportunities as a Falmouth resident.
Hopefully some of these will be helpful for certain parts of the process.
Asking the community at large for their opinions on the topics they’d like to see covered in the survey is a great idea. Thanks for reaching out to town residents as a way to source this information. My only caution in asking broadly for this input, despite being a worthy exercise, is that we are in the midst of unprecedented and unsure times and, therefore, the opinions, sentiments, and ideas may not create an accurate reflection of needs and desires. Every aspect of life, from what we expect from our schools to land use to household financial strains, etc are all being affected in some way. Are we heading back to a previous version of normal or to a “new” normal? This survey will undoubtedly generate quality, actionable information, but the timing of the survey needs to considered when addressing the results, especially when they will be used to guide the long-term vision and downstream decisions. Having said that, I’d like the survey to inform the vision with regards to:
– The future of, and direction for Rt.1 development
– High school expansion
– Connectivity of open space properties
– Expectations of communications between the Town and residents
– Policies that support age-in-place living
– Policies that promote more pedestrian and bicycle accommodations
– Pace and nature of home development in the various parts of town
Ideas to consider:
1) Who will select the questions that will appear on the Survey?
2) How do we know that the questions submitted and selected will not be “massaged”, “edited”, and otherwise made to conform to the viewpoint of the Town Council and the desired outcome of the “Vision and Values” project?
3) Do many Falmouth voters know what AFFH regulations are (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) and what the motivation is behind these regulations?
4) Is the 2013 Comprehensive Plan and the 2016 Zoning Change a result of the Town Council’s adoption of AFFH as a guiding philosophy?
5) Do Falmouth residents approve of “One Party” government?
6) Why do only 16 to 30% of registered voters in Falmouth participate in Town Council / School Board elections?
How will Falmouth preserve its woodlands/natural spaces?
1. The schools in our town have a good reputation. What do you think the schools do right and where is there room for improvement?
2. Would you have any suggestions for new curriculum /coursework in the schools? For example, a required course on finance, which would cover things like saving money, investing, applying for a loan, etc.
3. If you’re familiar with some of the new developments in Falmouth, what do you like about them and/or what don’t you like? For example, would you like to see more trees preserved within the communities?
4. In recent years the town has put an emphasis on improving walkability along commercial areas and major roads. Do you think this is money well spent or or not and why?
5. Do you think the town should spend more money on the aesthetics of the entrance to the route one commercial area? In other words, should there be more plantings and landscaping to improve this area (near the intersection of Route 88 and Route one)?
6. How should commercial growth along our major roads be best controlled so that these thruways don’t become more congested and challenging to traverse?
I agree with Sarah Spear’s comments and I am too concerned that we don’t have a vision of who we are or what we want to be known for in the area. This is central to this process.
I personally want to preserve open space that all community members can use. I’d like to see more of a community center with a post office, retail etc. At one point there was a development that would infill the Shaw’s parking lot with retail, residential and restaurants what happened to that? I’d like to see the Town allow some developments like a botanical garden, park, sculpture gallery, etc that will create Town revenue and entice visitors and community members alike.
I would like to have a review of the current zoning requirements in town. I live across from Ocean View and for some reason only a handful of lots right here are required to have almost an acre whereas right down the street it is a third of the size. If we could do more with these lots, we could bring more housing and people to the community – which would seem to be beneficial for all of us.
I’m grateful to Falmouth’s leaders for an opportunity to weigh in on this and to everyone who has done so. This is a great town.
Here are some topics I’d like to see on the survey:
– Open space and access: Encouraging use of existing and conservation of additional open space, canoe/kayak launches, biking/hiking/skiing/snowshoeing trails. Connecting open spaces. Making it easier to find and use open spaces by increasing signage, web tools, parking, and toilets.
– Gathering spaces: Encouraging use of our existing venues (library, skating rinks, tennis courts, town landing, play grounds, etc.) and exploring what new ones should we consider (town indoor swimming pool, outdoor concert space, town beach on Highland Lake, community garden plots (pea patches), town kayak/canoe racks, dog parks, frisbee golf courses, etc.)? Ensuring parking, signage, and toilets at gathering spaces.
– Building energy codes: Encouraging/requiring combustion-free heating systems (e.g., heat pumps), superinsulation, solar PV, in-home EV chargers, and low global warming potential building materials.
– Transportation: Encouraging public EV chargers, priority parking for EVs, bike lanes, bike racks, sidewalks, smart traffic lights, roundabouts and carpool lots.
– Character: What can/should we do to help preserve Falmouth’s farming, fishing, and forestry heritage?
Should the Maine Geological Survey Coastal Bluffs Maps be updated?
Should town ordinances be updated to minimize developmental impacts
to the unstable areas of the bluffs?
With respect to Conditional Use ordinances, I would like to see them developed with objective language, not subjective language, in order to address the existing requirement relative to “design” compatibility with the neighborhood? This is particularly relevant in the Waterfront Overlay Neighborhood where development the past few years has been concentrated in tear downs of the old house architecture and replaced sometimes with houses not very compatible to the majority of existing neighborhood houses. I believe the vast majority of neighbors are in agreement with this sentiment.
I would like the Town to address the question of how to balance the desire to be an open, welcoming community to families of all backgrounds and ages, while at the same time protecting the unique character of the waterfront communities. I agree with Mr. Wood’s comment above that the conditional use ordinances need to be clarified with specific language relating to the protection of neighborhood water views as well as the scale and scope of proposed projects compared to both immediate neighbors and the existing neighborhood.
How can Falmouth write and enforce Zoning Ordinances and Development Standards that are specifically appropriate for a wide range of neighborhood scale, character, and unique amenities.
My husband and I agree with Mr.Wood’s and Mrs.Thurston’s comments above and would like to see the issue of preserving the unique and historical character of the waterfront districts addressed. Thank you.
My family moved to Falmouth about 1976 from Cape Elizabeth. It never made sense that the High School didn’t have a pool. The town has always needed a pool, outdoor pool, public pool, school pool. It also needs public beaches. Town Landing and Mackworth Island you can jump in at high tide with tiny parking lots. The best time the town should have figured out a town beach on Highland Lake is 40 years ago, but the second best time is now.
How will the town balance the preservation of all of the unique neighborhoods as Falmouth continues to grow? How can the town zoning ordinances be written and enforced in an objective way…the ordinances are too vague and, as a result, become subjective? How can the waterfront communities preserve their historic charm, which is what brought me to Falmouth?
I’d love to see a question about ways to make the town’s public spaces more integrated into natural ecosystems, not just on conservation land, but in developed areas too. For example, planting native trees (that support exponentially more local wildlife than non-native trees) on median strips.
The first question is – Will Falmouth continue to grow and where will that growth come from? Current real estate sales show that home values have increased by 15% during COVID because out-of-state higher income homeowners are buying homes due to a “work from home environment”. Larger homes are in short supply as the demand has increased with homes selling in 3 days after being listed.
Falmouth has a history of growth and decline. In 1810, the population was 4,105. By 1920, the population had fallen to 1,542. In the 1920’s, Falmouth began to grow again. Population grew as follows:
• 1930 2,041
• 1940 2,883
• 1950 4,342
• 1960 5,976
• 1970 6,291
• 1980 6,853
• 1990 7,610
• 2000 10,310
• 2010 11,185
Falmouth has been transformed from a coastal rural farm community to a golfing and tennis community. The Portland Country Club was established in 1895 and is responsible for growth after 1900 as the Falmouth Foreside community developed. The large growth between 1990 and 2000 is due to The Woodlands Club being established in 1989 and the Falmouth Country Club being established in 1988. Members built homes near the Clubs and in the communities surrounding them. This growth increased the property tax base which enabled Falmouth to consolidate and build a new high school in 2000. Higher income families also pushed the school system to provide the best education available and provided the tax base for increasing school spending per student.
Falmouth is prospering and home values are increasing. The key question is what will drive future growth in Falmouth? It is doubtful a large employer will relocate to Falmouth so it will probably not come from an expanding business environment.
The State of Maine estimate of population growth in Cumberland County is from an estimated population of 294,711 to 302,944 in 2036 – a total of 8,233 or 548 people per year. The same estimate shows the town of Cumberland and Falmouth growing with Yarmouth and Portland decreasing. These estimates appear to be simple extrapolations based on history.
What age groups are growing in Falmouth? Falmouth appears to be getting older. The portion of the population estimated to be 65 and older is growing from 16.2%, in 2000, 19.0% in 2010 and a current estimate of 23.7%.
Falmouth growth is also due to retirement communities being established here. Falmouth by the Sea was built in 1978. Sedgewood Commons was built in 1992 and Falmouth House at Oceanview was built in 1986.
Each of these facilities has expanded over the years and is responsible for a portion of the population growth.
School Enrollment trends
The student population is also getting older with the number of students in 2000 versus 2020 as follows:
Elementary 1,587 1,504
High School 572 699
Total 2,159 2,203
These trends are consistent with an increasing average income population.
Homes available for sale
In October, 27 homes were sold in Falmouth with a median price of $575,000. As of November 2, 47 homes are available for sale with 24 of them below that medium price. Only 4 homes are listed below $400,000.
Trends in household income levels
Median household income $66,855 $119,679
Per capita income 36,716 66,403
Below poverty line 3.7% 2.6%
Household income necessary to buy a home in Falmouth
Buying a median priced home of $575,000 requires a minimum 5% down payment of $28,750. Zillow also recommends that mortgage payments be limited to 40% of income. Using a 30-year mortgage and interest rate of 3.07% results in a monthly payment of $3,143 including home insurance and property taxes. Therefore, it would take an annual household income of $94,290 to buy the median home in Falmouth. This is consistent with the current median household income.
Summary of the key trends
Falmouth is a rural bedroom community for people who work in other Towns. The medium home price of $575,000 requires a family household with annual income of at least $95,000. Growth has been due to the establishment of country clubs and retirement facilities with homeowners moving from other Maine towns or from out-of-state for retirement in Maine. Minimal growth is due to births or new businesses moving to Falmouth.
Key questions for the vision:
1. Where do you believe that growth in Falmouth population will come from? New home developments? New businesses moving into Falmouth?
2. Should Falmouth residents subsidize lower income people to move into Falmouth? Why?
3. Do the residents of Falmouth want to retain the image of rural town with a great school system?
4. What made you move to Falmouth? Was it the school system? Was it to be near one of the Country Clubs? Was it to be near the Yacht Club or boating facilities?
5. Will you leave Falmouth if lower income housing is pushed by Town government?
I would like to see questions regarding desired housing density in all areas of town and the impact on increased density on schools and traffic. I would like more open/green spaces. Do we want to further lose the rural character we once had? I also would like to further address short term rentals.