New DRI For Wychmere Shores Faces Commission Challenges

Cape Cod Chronicle (3/17/99)

by William F. Galvin
HARWICH --- Having received a modified development of regional impact approval from the Cape Cod Commission a couple of months for a condominium development plan at Wychmere Shores, one might have anticipated a new development of regional impact application on the same plan would face little challenge. Not so, the project proponents learned this week.

Applicant Dr. J. Richard Fennell is seeking the new development of regional impact approval for his Wychmere Shores project on the site of the Snow Inn in Harwich Port because the existing permit will expire on June 25 and it is unlikely the developer will break ground for the 34-unit condominium project before that date.

In December, the commission gave its approval to construct the 34-units, a maximum of 108 bedrooms, in nine buildings on that 11.89 acre site along the shores of Wychmere Harbor and Nantucket Sound. That proposal was a modification for downsizing the existing permit, granted on June 25, 1992, by 30 units.

The permit also included the existing amenities for the 600 member Beach Club and for the operation of the 525 seat restaurant at the former Thompson's Clam Bar location. In all, 229 parking spaces were approved with that plan.

A new development of regional impact approval would put permits in place for this development for another seven year period. Cape Cod Commission project planner Ken Kirkey explained in a public hearing on Wednesday that while the project had recently been modified to encompass the requests sought at this point, a new DRI would be subject to any new provisions put in place since the grant of the first permit.

The applicable changes identified by the commission staff on that evening were mainly in the area of water resources and traffic mitigation. Arline Wilson of A. M. Wilson, Associates, Inc., the environmental consult working for the applicant, took issue with several of the assumptions made by commission staff in those areas.

Commission water resources scientist Ed Eichner spoke to nitrogen loading aspects of this project, explaining the regional policy plan focuses on loading of marine water recharge areas. He said the goal is to try and establish a nitrogen limit for each embayment, citing the project's proximity on the edge of Wychmere Harbor.

Proposing a means to do that, Eichner recommended changing the location of the leaching field for the wastewater treatment plant to a vacant lot owned by Fennell across Snow Inn Road and with a major portion of that land outside of the watershed area for that embayment. The lot, located at the head of a coastal bank, would provide for much improved flushing over the leaching bed presently located beneath the parking lot, Eichner indicated.

Wilson took exception with that proposal, pointing out the lot was valued by the town at $500,000 and would require a zoning variance to allow for a commercial use in a residential zone and cost between $1.5 and $2 million, also taking two to three years to put in place.

She argued against the calculations used by Eichner to reach his figures, pointing out while the state Department of Environmental Protection permitted the treatment plant for 10 parts per million nitrogen loading the history of its operation over a 12-year period shows not greater than 4 ppm is generated.

Fennell pointed out the restaurant and beach club are open for three months of the year and the condominiums would be used during the summer months with diminished use in the shoulder season and about 10 percent occupancy during the winter.

Planning Board Chairman Robert Widegren pointed out this project pales by comparison to the pollution contribution from the commonwealth of Massachusetts, which empties road runoff from Route 28 directly into that embayment.

Commission member Jay Schlaikjer of Sandwich questioned Eichner's calculations, pointing out there are big discrepancies between his proposal and what the project proponents are putting forth. He pointed out that using the 5 ppm figure would place this project very close to the standard sought. The commission subcommittee agreed proponents and the staff should meet to come to an agreement on realistic numbers for this project.