EAST HARWICH — The 3.3 acre parcel on Route 39 to the west of Harwich East Plaza has been sold to Eastward MBT, LLC, Trustee of Eastward Homes Business Trust of Chatham. The purchase ties this parcel together with a 7.4-acre parcel also owned by Eastward Homes, which extends to Route 137.
A year ago, Agway of Cape Cod had a purchase and sales agreement on this property and was planning to build a 9,932-square-foot retail store and warehouse on that land. But they pulled away from that acquisition citing the need to address the town's Water Resource Protection District requirements and time constraints related to the project.
The 3.3 acre parcel is located in the Commercial Highway Two District along with the adjoining 7.4 acres that has been held free of development by Eastward Homes for several years. The joining of these two parcels could provide a loop road behind Harwich East Plaza connecting routes 137 and 39.
The property was purchased on Friday for $565,000 from Leigh W. McKenney trustee under will of Leland H. McKenney. The property is assessed at $363,100.
Bill Marsh, President of Eastward Homes, said on Monday he has no plans for the property at this time. He said he had the opportunity to buy it and add it to the other parcel, providing almost 11 acres there.
“The future holds good things for the routes 137/39 intersection,” said Marsh, who also owns a commercial development along Auston Road in the northeast corner of the intersection. “It's really the economic center for this part of Cape Cod.”
He is quick to point out the CH-2 District does not allow for residential development and he would like to see some zoning changes allowing for increased density and residential units there. He said all over New England village centers are developed with the residential component and he thinks that is what the citizens of the community want.
“A village center brings vibrancy, people out at night,” Marsh said. “Affordable and work force housing is needed there.”
He said the East Harwich subcommittee, which consisted of planning board members, worked hard over a long period of time talking to a lot of people in town and they had a lot of good ideas. But that plan didn't yield results, Marsh said.
“Any new zoning there would be an uphill battle” Marsh said of a contingent of people who have been battling for less development density in that district.
The town has been working for nearly two decades to shape a zoning package for the East Harwich village that could win the two-thirds majority vote required in town meeting. Several proposals have been rebuffed and not brought to the floor of town meeting.
The latest effort was that of the East Harwich subcommittee which put forward a proposal to “create a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use village center and residential development connected by a series of village streets.” That proposal was met with opposition when presented to the planning board this spring. Opponents cited commercial density as a concern and the need for open-space offsets that would balance growth with environmental concerns.
Marsh said the connecting of his two properties would provide a “good loop potential” there. But he added he “absolutely has no plans” for development at this time.