ORLEANS — To Sean Campbell, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about his family’s house being built on Great Oak Road.
“It is unfortunate that we are being singled out for building a private residence (in compliance with town zoning bylaws), it seems, because the home will be used partly as a rental property,” he wrote to The Chronicle last week. “Our view is rental properties are very common in East Orleans, across the Cape, and are prevalent in our neighborhood.”
Campbell was responding to a request for comment about a challenge to the building permit for 21 Great Oak Rd. by an abutter. “My supposition is that this is in fact a rental business in an area that’s zoned residential,” said Vince Ollivier, who lives across the street and filed the appeal. The matter was on the zoning board of appeals docket for last night (Nov. 6).
Not so, according to Campbell, who wrote that his family has Cape roots going back three generations. “We are building a private family residence that will be used for personal use and rentals,” he stated. “While it is a larger home with eight bedrooms and 5,000 square feet above ground and a basement, it is on a two-acre parcel and is immediately surrounded by another 4-plus acres of conservation land. According to the Orleans zoning bylaws this parcel in this neighborhood may have a home with up to eight bedrooms (with no special waivers or approvals required). There is no square footage limit.”
Campbell wrote that the family “is sensitive to the concerns and questions of our neighbors and the surrounding community” and has reached out with a letter to neighbors while also contacting Ollivier by email to discuss any issues. They brought the project to the historical commission, which imposed a demolition delay on existing buildings that will expire in the spring.
Although the main house, “which has fallen into disrepair,” will be removed, the family heard from a neighbor “who asked that we try to save a small barn on our property,” Campbell wrote. “We are saving that barn by giving it away to another neighbor for free. We did not hear from any other neighbors about our home or hear any objections about the scale or style of our home. We are disappointed to hear one or several neighbors have hired an attorney to try to reverse a lawful building permit, on what we are told are highly unusual grounds.”
Campbell wrote that the family owns another home in Orleans, at 56 Gosnold Rd., in Pochet. “It is a 7BR home with approximately 5,000 square feet (similar footprint size, but no basement),” he wrote. He got in touch with a neighbor, Wil Mehring, who agreed to speak to the newspaper.
“They’re very nice people,” Mehring said of Campbell’s family. “They had a big job redoing the house (on Gosnold Road). There was a lot of rot inside. They pretty much stuck to the footprint. They’re hospitable neighbors. I have not had any problems with them.”
Mehring, who lives in Hingham, said renting his Pochet property, which he’s owned since 1986, “is putting bread on the table for me.” His family stays there on Columbus Day and Memorial Day holidays and for Thanksgiving and rents out the house from May through November.
That’s not unusual in Orleans, according to Campbell. “As many families do, we expect to use the house (at 21 Great Oak Rd.) ourselves part of the year (for family, friends, and guests) and rent the house part of the year,” he wrote. “As your readers know, this is a very common practice in East Orleans and across Cape Cod. In East Orleans there are over 60 rental homes… as well as quite a few annual leased homes.”
Campbell wrote that “calling our private home (at 21 Great Oak) a business is a mis-representation. This is clearly a residential home… Our home is owned via a Limited Liability Company (LLC) structure, but that is a very common ownership structure for residential properties that will be used in part as rentals, to protect the owners from excessive liability. In Orleans, for example, we count at least 40 homes also covered by such companies… Any use of the term ‘business’ or ‘company’ is just part of marketing our rental.”
The new house on Great Oak Road, set back 165 feet from the street, “will blend seamlessly into the neighborhood, both in terms of size and style,” Campbell wrote. “We want to be great neighbors and supporters of the local Orleans community. We are concerned our neighbors will form opinions before they have all of the facts and have had an opportunity to hear more about our home.”
Campbell invited neighbors to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org