The following report was written by Sandra Stosz to notify neighbors and donors to her legal support fund that the suit she and her brother Mark Stowes brought against the developers of the Helmis Circle 40B project was recently settled. While the density remains the same, there were a few significant improvements to the agreement.
On September 13, 2018, Sandra Stosz and Mark Stowes, abutters at 115 Lucerne Avenue, filed a complaint challenging the decision of the Town of Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals, made on August 24, 2018, to issue a comprehensive permit under M.G.L. ch. 40B to Helmis Circle, LLC to develop a 28-lot subdivision on an approximately 4.5-acre parcel located off Worcester court and abutting Little Pond.
• In January, 2020, Sandra Stosz and Mark Stosz settled with Helmis Circle, LLC. This avoided a costly court process, while providing concessions mitigating some of the adverse impacts of the development. Although we were unsuccessful in reducing density, the provisions of the settlement included a Revised Scope of Work that moved the houses closest to Little Pond, #12 and #13, to the west (away from Little Pond) by about 30 feet. The limit of work was moved by a roughly equal amount, placing the homes and yards, which had previously been sited inside the environmentally sensitive 50-foot Coastal Bank Buffer Zone, outside of that zone. For context, that means the homes will be approximately 210 feet away from Little Pond. This will result in saving many of the mature trees in the Coastal Bank Buffer Zone, and will otherwise protect and preserve the coastal bank habitat.
• The settlement also includes a private conservation restriction on lots #11, #12 and #13, which include the land all the way down to the waterline at Little Pond. The private conservation restriction will be included in the deed for those three homes, and requires that the land subject to the conservation restriction (beyond the yards), be preserved in its natural state.
• The Revised Scope of Work must be approved by the Town of Falmouth ZBA and the Massachusetts DEP. It has already been approved by the ZBA and is currently with Mass DEP, where processing times have been impacted by the Covid-19 requirements.
• As soon as the Revised Scope of Work is approved, Helmis Circle, LLC can purchase the land and the conservation restriction can be signed and recorded. Since the Revised Scope of Work is better for the environment, it is likely to be approved by Mass DEP.
• Sandra Stosz and Mark Stowes raised a total of $6,559.10 in donations, and are very thankful to those who supported our appeal. We have thus far expended a total of $22,388 on legal and environmental consulting fees.
Helmis Circle, LLC, signed a purchase and sales agreement for the Helmis Circle property on February 14, 2017, and on July 20, 2017 MassHousing issued a project eligibility/site approval letter. Although the ZBA issued a comprehensive permit on August 24, 2018, construction was delayed as a result of the appeal process. Presuming Mass Dep approves the Revised Scope of Work, the economic uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 restrictions may further impact the project, including the start of construction.
Site Layout Helmis 40B 6 2 2020. (After opening the link, click on the picture to make it larger).