West Harwich Habitat Project Faces Appeals Board

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Housing and homelessness

A Habitat for Humanity build in West Chatham.  FILE PHOTO

by William F. Galvin

HARWICH — The appeals board was scheduled Wednesday evening to open a hearing on the Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod application for a comprehensive permit for six single-family affordable homes and two market lots along Route 28 in West Harwich.

The hearing will be opened by the appeals board and will be immediately continued to a later date, anticipated to be in late March or early April.

The proposal calls for the subdivision of 2.46 acres of land at 93-97 Route 28. The property is owned by Harwich Ecumenical Council for Housing, which previously considered a 20-unit affordable rental housing complex at the site.

The property at 97 Route 28 is the location of the historic Judah Chase house, built circa 1865, while 93 Route 28 was the former HECH office, which has been converted to rental housing. The plan is to place a cul-de-sac along the west property line and develop six lots, ranging in size from 10,700 to 8,800 square feet, and build two three-bedroom Cape-style homes and four two-bedroom ranch-style homes.

The former Chase parcel will be reduced to a 21,436-square-foot lot, and the HECH lot would be reduced to 9,291 square feet. A portion of the HECH structure would have to be demolished to make way for the cul-de-sac.

The front lots will not have affordable deed restrictions. HECH has issued a request for proposal for a buyer for the Chase house property, which includes a requirement for preservation of the front exterior facade of the historic structure.

The Habitat project has received the endorsement of selectmen through its vote to provide $240,000 from the town affordable housing fund for the purchase of the approximately 1.5 acres that will make up the six-lot subdivision behind the two lots along Route 28. All six homes will be deed restricted and affordable to low-to-moderate-income households.

Habitat will use its sweat equity model, requiring homeowners to work on construction of the houses alongside community volunteers. The two-bedroom homes are anticipated to cost around $131,750, with the three-bedroom units prices at $147,500. Prices could be adjusted slightly higher based on the incomes and calculations at the time of marketing.

“We strive to make our homes welcome in a neighborhood and to be good neighbors,” said Leedara Zola, a member of Habitat's land acquisition and permitting team. “Habitat works to create a collaborative spirit where a whole community can be actively involved in helping to address the affordable housing crisis.”