HARWICH — The planning board has approved a site plan special permit for Allen Harbor Marine Service, Inc. to store between 39 and 60 boats on the lot at the east side corner of Route 28 and Grey Neck Road. The property was part of the Mill Store operation and was used for garden shed storage and sales.
Brad Malo of Coastal Engineering, Inc. said Allen Harbor Marine Service is planning to purchase the 40,810-square-foot parcel from Grey Neck Road Realty Trust, but not the lot where the former Mill Store was located.
The lot is located in the Commercial Highway One District and mostly within the FEMA Herring River flood zone. The conservation commission earlier in July approved the proposed use in the floodplain.
Malo said the plan is to expand the curb cut on Grey Neck Road, but there will be no curb cut on Route 28. There will be some adjustments to existing vegetation and a retaining wall is proposed along the southeast corner of the site. Changes to the site were said to be relatively minimal. A new stormwater drainage system will be added to the lot.
The proposal sought two waivers, one relating to off-street parking regulations and the other to the 10 percent interior landscaping requirement. Malo pointed out there are no structures proposed and no business will be conducted there so vehicles will not be using the site. The plan is to develop 10-by-30-foot boat storage spaces to accommodate boats in the 15- to 33-foot length and the only access will be by the vehicles transporting the boats. Interior landscaping islands would also interfere with such maneuvering.
Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh said the waivers are appropriate.
Members of the board raised questions about the need for security. AHMS owner Craig LeBlanc said the only true security would be a chain-link fence with razor wire on top or a six-foot stockade fence, but that wouldn't work as well and it would not look good there. He said fencing is not being considered at this time.
“We don't have security issues at the harbor,” LeBlanc said of storing boats in the parking lot over the winter.
Board member James Atkinson asked about providing roving security every three to five hours. LeBlanc said they used to do it at the harbor, but they discontinued it because “nothing ever happened.” He said the workers will be on the property every day. The boats will arrive shrink-wrapped and if “we see it cut we'll check it out.” Atkinson suggested they might want to use video surveillance.
Board member Craig Chadwick wanted to know if the site would be purely for storage or whether there would be pressure washing and repairs done there. LeBlanc said it would be strictly storage, stating his staff might be in and out of there as late as 5:30 to 6 p.m. and there would be no transient traffic during the night.
West Harwich resident Virginia Doyle said she was representing a number of neighbors who are quite concerned about the proposal, chiefly with visibility while driving along Route 28 and with traffic issues with Grey Neck Road and the Lighthouse Restaurant and Post Office across the street.
“The white wrapped boats constitute a problem,” Doyle said. “There are visibility issues.”
Doyle also said it was her understanding that boat storage was allow only in industrial zones. The town planner said boat storage, as long as no repairs are proposed on site, is allowed in the commercial district.
“A lot of residents have been working very hard to beautify this area and boat storage is not beautification,”
The planning board approved the two waivers and the site plan special permit by unanimous votes.