FALMOUTH — After months of preparation, Falmouth officials plan to take a first step toward negotiating the purchase of a Main Street property targeted for a contentious affordable housing project.
The property at issue, 2.5 acres at the corner of Main Street and Lantern Lane, is owned by John and Robert Fay.
While a developer is looking to build 104 units there, town meeting members in November approved $100,000 in seed money for the town to start the process of purchasing the property.
The land would then be used for a less dense housing project with more affordable units — a project neighbors, officials and residents would find more suitable for the location.
Town Manager Julian Suso told the selectmen Monday that an appraisal of the property has been done and the state inspector general has approved next steps. A request for proposal is being written, Suso said, and will be ready for review by the board’s next meeting.
The invitation for proposals will be for an affordable housing site that fits the description and parameters of the property at Main Street and Lantern Lane, while not specifically for that site.
“We hope for a response from the owners and developers of Lyberty Green,” Suso told the selectmen. “Then we can begin negotiation.”
Currently Falmouth Hospitality’s principal, Robert Walker, of Westwood, has the property under agreement with the Fays.
Last summer, Falmouth Hospitality secured a comprehensive permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to build 104 units there, with 24 being affordable, but was unhappy with attached restrictions.
The company, complaining the conditions and waiver denials exceeded the zoning board’s authority and made the project too expensive to build, filed an appeal with the state Housing Appeals Committee.
The appeal is ongoing, with a site meeting planned by the state for 9:30 a.m. on April 4.
Four Lantern Lane residents who opposed the project filed a complaint in Barnstable Superior Court against the Zoning Board, Falmouth Hospitality and John and Robert Fay.
The case will be on hold until until the Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee makes its decision.
Town meeting member Marc Finneran submitted a petition article for last November’s town meeting asking for $2.5 million — the value assigned by the town’s assessing department — to purchase the property or to forcibly take the site by eminent domain.
After a long discussion, town meeting members approved $100,000 for officials to work toward negotiating the property’s purchase.
On Tuesday, Suso said in an email he could not provide the amount the property was recently appraised for because it was a “confidential and privileged document.”
He could not provide specific details on the RFP either because it is still being written, he said.
Calls to Falmouth Hospitality’s attorney Kevin Ericksen were not returned.
Before the Lyberty Green proposal, Falmouth Hospitality had proposed building a Marriott Hotel on the site. The Cape Cod Commission rejected that plan. The company then came back with the affordable housing plan. Because the town has less affordable housing stock than the state’s 10 percent required minimum, officials had little choice but to approve the project.
— Follow Christine Legere on Twitter: @ChrisLegereCCT.