FALMOUTH (AP) – A woman who claims the town is at “war” with her about her plans to build a subdivision of million-dollar homes is now proposing to build a cemetery on her property.

Mary Alice Davis wants to locate a cemetery for people and pets on 17 of the 180 rolling acres she owns off of Woodville Road. The land is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in this fast-growing Portland suburb.

Davis has already proposed building a subdivision on another 60 acres of her land, a proposal that has sparked controversy in town and prompted Davis to call Falmouth’s zoning laws “un-American” because of restrictions on development.

The cemetery would be on the grounds of a home that belonged to Davis’ late father-in-law, H. Halsey Davis, the millionaire co-founder of Shaw’s Supermarkets. Mary Alice Davis, the widow of Halsey Davis’ only child, Howard, now owns the property and lives just down the road.

Davis would sell plots to the public, but the cemetery also would be the final resting place for the ashes of her husband, who died in 1996 at age 59, and of Davis herself and her little white dog, Brian, a miniature poodle mix.

“I thought Howard and I and Brian could be buried there (in the cemetery) and then I thought, ‘Oh no, what about Brian?”‘ said Davis, 58, a former cosmetologist who met Howard Davis in 1991 and married him a year later.

The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to hear Davis’ request Tuesday night for a conditional use approval for the cemetery. Cemeteries are allowed in that area of town if they meet certain conditions, including fitting in with the neighborhood, not having a significant adverse effect on nearby property and not causing traffic congestion.

Several of Davis’ neighbors oppose her plan for Sherwood Forest, a subdivision of 12 homes she wants to build on another portion of her land along Woodville Road. The subdivision is due to come before the Planning Board for final approval on Sept. 3.

Some neighbors had sought a moratorium on building because the town is working on a master zoning plan for the area.

Davis said both the proposed new zoning and the current zoning is too restrictive. “When you take our land, you take our rights,” she said.

Davis said she is unsure how her cemetery proposal will be received because she claims the town is against her. “It was war from the beginning, and the war was against me,” she said.

Richards Olson, chairman of the Town Council, said neither he nor any other town official is warring against Davis. He noted that her subdivision proposal “is on the cusp of being approved” by the Planning Board.

As for the cemetery, Olson said, the region needs more cemeteries and “whatever anyone wants to do that is permitted under the zoning code, they can do.”

AP-ES-08-26-03 0216EDT



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