Jonathan Cohen asked the Falmouth Town Council earlier this evening: “Is a master plan the official position of the town? I need to hear this this evening. I am trying to do this for the town.” He got his answer when a unified Council told him they could not change the zoning for the soccer field because he had not provided any of the information they had requested such as – the environmental and traffic impact studies for the neighborhood.
Cohen has said that the soccer field would be the economic driver of the project, but following the meeting he told this blogger it would only be a field for young people with no seating.
In a brief presentation to the Council, he mostly pleaded with the Council to permit the process as he and his business partner, the controversial Joe Soley, proposed. He said he would not spend any money on a master plan for land that he does not yet own.
Construction costs are all over the place said Cohen. “Costs will not change. We would need to get people to hold their prices. We don’t have the luxury of time.”
Board member Aaron Sveldow said there is a “public appetite for a master plan, but not for the zoning change.” Caleb Hemphill said: “We need some sense of how stormwater, lighting and other issues will be handled.” Cohen responded: “I’m hearing you don’t want to do this.” However, Councilors said repeatedly that they like the entire project and hoped another way to proceed could be found.
“I’ve done projects that I thought were in the hardest parts of the state, but I was wrong,” said Cohen. “Especially since I live here.” Cohen is the developer for the WEX headquarters on the Portland waterfront. His business partner, the controversial Joe Soley, 87 years old. was a former business associate of the disgraced VP Spiro Agnew, under Richard Nixon, in Baltimore, MD., in housing. Cohen and Soley purchased the Falmouth Shopping Center earlier this year presenting a massive redevelopment plan.
The two developers earlier this year tried to evict one of the shopping center’s most popular tenants – Ocean State Job Lot – a large discount store. The Rhode Island based store has taken the matter to court where it is currently being litigated.
“My feeling is that the council expressed my feelings about the zoning well. Cohen was asked to return with information like studies, but he just repeated his same plea about the urgency with no new information about the rest of the project,” said William. Another Falmouth resident said: “It smells like garbage.”