Potential For Restaurant In Harwich Port Rankles Neighbors

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Harwich Port , Development

An artist's rendering of proposed mixed-use commercial building in Harwich Center.

HARWICH PORT — Changes are being proposed to the plan to redevelop the former Dino's restaurant location in the center of the village, and the possibility those changes could include a restaurant has some neighbors concerned.

Last week the board of health heard a request for a septic permit for the property more than double the required capacity of the original proposal, leading some to believe a restaurant could be in the future.

The main concern is how a restaurant will impact parking. There is a cross easement agreement with Richard and Bernadette Waystack, the property owners to the east, who were before the board of health last week expressing concern for an expanded septic system that could allow a restaurant there.

“We have an agreement based on there [not being] a restaurant here,” Richard Waystack said of the easement worked out relating to the parking. “Our concern is it's an end run.”

The project will be going before the planning board next Tuesday, which has authority over the parking issue. The request the board will hear is for a modification to the special permit previously granted by the planning board for the two-story mixed-use structure proposed for the 28,008-square-foot lot that once held the restaurant and three retail spaces. The modifications include a two-foot height waiver, with the building proposed at 32 feet when the zoning bylaw allows 30 feet, and a change in the layout of the proposed units.

The unit layout changes being sought before the planning board seek to establish four retail units on the first floor of the 12,400 square-foot, two-story structure, and four three bedroom residential units on the second floor. The original approved plan called for six retail shops and a residential unit on the first floor and four more residential units on the second floor.

“There is no change to the footprint of the building,” the project narrative filed with the board states.

However, John Schnaible, a project manager with Coastal Engineering, Inc. of Orleans, was before the board of health last week seeking a permit to install a septic disposal system for more than 2,000 gallons per day. Such a filing requires an environmental impact report demonstrating compliance with health board regulations.

The project as proposed for four retail units and 12 bedrooms is calculated at 1,520 gallons per day, well below the EIR threshold. But property owner 525 Camelot, LLC is seeking a design capacity for a 3,315 gallon per day system, more than double the capacity required. The nitrogen loading calculations for the system provided to the health board break down to 1,320 gpd for the 12 bedrooms and 1,995 gpd for a 57-seat restaurant, totaling the 3,315 gpd.

Schnaible said the request is being made to allow all options for use of the facilities. He said a barber shop or a little restaurant might want to locate there in the future. Two thousand gallons per day would not be needed initially, but perhaps down the road, he said.

Schnaible told the board no variances are being requested. He said the area is unique, citing the town's comprehensive wastewater management plan. He said no nitrogen attenuation is required for the location because it is outside the five watersheds identified in the plan, there are no zones of contribution to public wells and it has good soil types. The groundwater flows toward Nantucket Sound, 5,000 feet away and there is good flushing, he said.

Health Department Director Paula Champagne said because the request was for well over 3,000 gpd and she did not think it was appropriate for her to sign off; instead the health board should make the decision. She said the state Department of Environmental Protection has determined the 3,315 gpd can be applied to any change of use.

“Once the board of health approves the permit, there is no reason to come back,” Champagne said. “It's a done deal. It would have the underlying board of health permit for a 57-seat restaurant.”

“I have an interest in this property and I'm concerned with doubling capacity,” Richard Waystack said, explaining the development agreement is based on not having a restaurant.

“A 55-seat restaurant would wipe out the entire (parking) area,” Waystack said. “I'm against increasing the capacity.”

Schnaible said there was a restaurant there previously and two septic systems, which generated 1,750 gpd.

Board of Health Chairman Dr. Robert Insley wanted to know if a restaurant can be located at the site. Schnaible said it is an allowed use.

“I believe in this project, it's a great project to help Harwich, as long as there is not a restaurant there,” Waystack said.

“When the restaurant was off the table, that's when we agreed to negotiate,” Bernadette Waystack said of the parking easements put in place.

Schnaible said the parking issues are nor a question for the health board.

“What it is, is you have to decide if you want to be the conscience of this area or not,” Insley said. “There is an agreement with the abutters now and they're trying to circumvent and that doesn't sound right, either.”

Champagne said the parking issue would have to be addressed before the planning board. She added if the board votes no it has to be based on the health board's environmental regulations and nitrogen numbers. Health board member Frank Boyle said there are no variance being sought and the flow fits onto the site.

Champagne recommended the board accept the environmental impact report as it is in compliance with the regulations. The project should move forward with the advanced capacity and without advanced wastewater treatment. The board issued its approval.