Residents air concerns about impacts of Harwich One project

Neighbors, offcials say Harwich 40B project could endanger natural resources

By Jason Kolnos Staff writer Cape Cod Times Topographic Map

Scott Ridley, a Kendrick Road resident, makes a point during Monday's public hearing at town hall on a proposed 32-unit development in East Harwich. (Staff photo by Scott Dalton, Harwich Oracle)HARWICH - (08/24/04) Affordable housing ve. protection of natural resources.

That was one of dozens of issues discussed at a standing-room only public meeting last night regarding the Summer Woods 40B affordable-housin project proposal, a 32-unit subdivision in East Harwich. Harwich One, the project's developer, intends to set aside eight units as affordable on nearly 40-acre property therfore making it eliglible for Chapter 40B, the state comprehensive premit for affordable housing.

The developer had requested that the selectmen send a letter of support of the proposal, but neighbors of the area offered a petition signed by 100 residents urging officials to hold a public meeting before they made any decisions.

Dozens of neighbors from the Kendrick Road are area of East Harwich attended last night to disapprove preliminary housing plans, citing concerns about nitrogen loading effects of development on drinking waterand the project's impact on the recently purchased 42 acre parcel for consevation along Muddy Creek, known to residents as the Shea property.

Neighbors and some town officials are worried that the increased septic waste from a large scale development would effect Pleasant Bay, a state determined area of critical environmental concern located less than 1,000 feet from the parcel. There were also concerns about the effect of runoff onto nearby Round Cove, one of the Town's most critical embayments. A town water well is also located close to the proposed site.

Harbormaster Thomas Leach said that Round Cove has already reached the limit of the healthy amount of nitrogen it can withstand, citing the increased amount of sea lettuce which chokes out vital habitat. "The intrusion of ground water into the area is unbelievable" said Leach. Leach added that the proposal under 40B regulations wouldn't require anything more than traditional Title V septic systems for the units, which is not enough to stop the nitrogen problem.

Selectmen Robert Widegren suggested that officials should consider requiring package treatment facilitities in the area to reduce the nitrogen as a possible condition of approval.

According to selectmen Donald Howell, developers are exempt from certain zoning regulations and would not need approval from the Cape Cod Commission. In other words escape County requirements for review as a project of regional impact.

By the Times deadline, the selectmen had not made any decision on whether to endorse the proposal.