Harwich Port Commons Clears Planning Board

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Development

Harwich Port Commons. FILE PHOTO

Owners Of Proposed Market Reach Agreement With Neighbors

HARWICH Having reached agreement with abutters, the developer of the proposed Harwich Port Commons market is moving the project ahead.

On Jan. 28, the planning board voted to continue debate on the application by Paul and Diane Manning, the owners of the new 12,400-square-foot building at 557-563 Route 28, in light of the dispute with neighbors. Abutter Joseph Della Morte of Cranberry Liquors raised concerns about beer and wine sales at the proposed the new market. Della Morte argued that a covenant between his store and the Mannings specifically prohibits the operation of a liquor store or package store in the new building next to his.

At last Tuesday’s meeting of the planning board, all opposition to the Harwich Port Commons proposal had vanished. Attorney Andrew Singer, representing the Mannings, said his clients, Della Morte and the owners of property on the opposite side – Richard and Bernadette Waystack – were now in agreement on the issue of parking and alcohol sales.

“The parties have reached a private resolution on that,” he said. The negotiations will continue between the parties “outside of this process,” Singer told the planning board.

Attorney William Crowell, representing Della Morte and the Waystacks, confirmed the agreement.

“Both of my clients are in support of the requests tonight for the amended site plan and the use special permit,” he said.

“It’s been an intensive few days of back and forth,” Della Morte told the planning board. “I think we’ve come to a reasonable, workable solution.”

Neither party elaborated on the terms of that solution. But news that the impasse had been broken seemed to reinvigorate public support for the project, which includes space for a retail farmers’ market and a delicatessen, with cafe seating for 24 people. Six of those seats will be outside in front of the store.

“I think this project is great for the town,” Miles Street resident Walter Mason said. “Markets like this are popping up all over the cities.”

Peter Hurst, who owns the kite shop across the street, said he supports the project.

“Mr. Manning has spent a considerable sum of money on the properties that he’s invested in the community,” he said.

“That building is a centerpiece of Harwich Port,” West Harwich resident James Horgan said. “And to see that full and vibrant would be an excellent asset.”

“I’m glad that all the parties involved have come to agreement,” Harwich Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cyndi Williams said. She said she hopes Harwich Port Commons offers a butcher shop and a seafood market, “two things that are going to complement what we do already have in Harwich Port.” Singer said the goal is indeed to include retail meats and seafood. Answering another question by Williams, Singer said the new market will indeed be open year-round.

“Right answer,” Williams said with a chuckle.

Chris Henry, Paul Manning’s son-in-law, said they are in talks with a Harwich Port man about operating the new store. The man already runs an existing business in town and has great ideas for Harwich Port Commons.

“He wants to partner with a prominent local Cape coffee roaster,” and would offer a coffee corner with Wi-Fi and space for customers to work or read the paper. “He’ll have a butcher counter with some light sandwiches pre-made for grab-and-go,” Henry added. There will be dry goods with “a heavy focus on local Cape Cod products,” in addition to fresh produce and seafood offerings, he said.

The new business will likely seek a retail package store license for alcohol sales, and may ultimately seek a beer and wine pouring license for patrons dining inside, Singer said.

Under town bylaws, delicatessens are considered to be fast food takeout, a use that requires a special permit. The required site plan special permit was also amended to reflect the six outdoor seats, which must be located in a way that doesn’t impede handicap accessibility or the flow of pedestrians on the sidewalk. Planning board members unanimously granted the two permits with the specified conditions.