HARWICH — Despite a hearing room filled with people wanting to comment on a proposal to construct a 36-hole mini-golf course near the intersection of Route 28 and Sisson Road, the appeals board shut down the hearing as the hour neared 10:30 p.m., leaving residents holding their input until the hearing resumes later this month.
The board had nine hearings scheduled for the session in late January, and several required lengthy debate. Appeals Board Chairman David Ryer said he'd cut off the meeting at 10:30 p.m., and provided early options for continuances. Three applicants took the offer.
Andrew Hall of the Emulous Hall Realty Trust was before the board requesting a variance to locate a miniature golf course in both the Commercial Highway One District and the Residential Medium District. Ryer said the hearing would end at 10:30 p.m. and the general public would not likely have the opportunity to provide comment at the time.
Attorney Andrew Singer, representing Hall, agreed to move forward with the hearing. The property also contains Bud’s Go Kart and the Windsong Antiques business.
He said the plan is to locate the course half on the disturbed commercial portion of the property and the remainder on the residential zone section. There are plans to upgrade the site, he said, adding that the conservation commission has approved the plan and addressed floodplain issues. The applicant is scheduled to go before the planning board on Feb. 11.
Singer said a portion of the proposed course was moved away from the floodplain. The topography of the property would better allow the shape of the course to be worked into the slope of the hill. The topography and restrictions on the use of the commercial portion create hardships that trigger the variance, he said.
Given the interest from Beach Plum Condominium residents who live on the east hillside above the proposed site, Singer said the triangle of trees and natural vegetation higher up in the residential zone will be retained. The condominiums would be 200 feet away, he said, the more greenery will be added to increase screening.
The golf course is allowed in the commercial zone, he said, and the proposal will provide a net decrease of commercial pre-existing nonconforming use within the residential zone. The use will be seasonal as opposed to the year-round use of the storage area. The site will be upgraded with lighting, drainage, and screening, and there will be no derogation to the public good, he added.
A curb cut will be added along Sisson Road that will serve both the go kart and mini-golf course operations, Singer said. The police department has expressed interest in removing the island in the center of Sisson Road, he added. A curb cut on Harold Street will remain.
The proposal is better than more intense uses allowed at the location, he said, such as retail stores, restaurants and marine operations. He said the lights at the course would be no higher than 14 feet and designed to have no negative impact off site.
The condominium elevations will block and channel noise, and the golf course would be a lot quieter than the go karts, Singer said.
Board member Kathleen Muller wanted to know the months, days and hours of operation. Plans are to open from May to September, weekends in May and September but seven days a week during the remaining months, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in good weather, Singer said.
Member James Hilliard wanted to know why the disturbed commercial area could not be used for residences. Ryer said he wanted to know why the residential property would not be used for housing. Ryer also took issue with retaining the curb cut on Harold Street, noting the narrowing road and residential nature of that neighborhood.
Singer said Harold Street would allow vehicles to access Sisson Road without adding another curb cut.
Member Al Donoghue wanted to know why the property couldn't be divided into separate pieces with an 18-hole course on the commercial lot. Singer responded that a portion of the course would still have to be in the residential zone.
Member Michael Cupoli asked if there any way to put the course up front, along the road, and put the parking in the rear. Singer said the conservation commission wanted the course structures outside the floodplain zone in the lower portion of the commercial district as a protective measure.
As the clock ticked to 10:30 p.m. Ryer called for the meeting to close. It was continued to Feb. 26, when public comment will be heard. Some residents attempted to speak about the proposal after the session was concluded, but Ryer restricted further discussion.