Royal Apartments Heading To Planning Board Under New Bylaw

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Development , Housing and homelessness

Royal Apartments LLC, the owners of the former Royal of Harwich Center property at the corner of Bank and Parallel streets, will be before the planning board next week seeking permits under the new multifamily zoning amendment to create 26 apartments. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — Under the newly approved multifamily zoning amendment, the owner of the former Royal of Harwich Center nursing home/assisted living property at the corner of Bank and Parallel streets will be going before the planning board next week seeking permits for a 26-unit apartment complex.

A similar proposal for re-use of the two buildings drew opposition from residents of the area last spring, and the applicant withdrew petitions from appeals board and planning board. Neighbors object to what they said were high housing density levels and negative traffic impacts.

In the September annual town meeting, voters approved an amended multifamily zoning bylaw which altered acreage and density provisions for multifamily development in the Multifamily Residential Low Density District in Harwich Center.

The previous project proposed by Royal Apartments LLC needed a variance from the appeals board based on provisions in the former multifamily zoning bylaw requiring 10 acres and a maximum of eight bedrooms per acre. Town Planner Charleen Greenhalgh said under the newly approved multifamily zoning amendment a variance will not be required.

The new multifamily zoning amendment allows the number of dwelling units to be determined by the “ability to place an adequately sized septic system for the number of bedrooms...and required parking per number of units.” The planning board serves as the special permit granting authority for multifamily developments, including conversion of existing structures and new construction.

According to a project narrative prepared by attorney Benjamin Zehnder of the law firm of LaTanzi, Spaulding and Landreth of Orleans, the existing sewage disposal area has a permitted design flow of 4,773 gallons per day. The applicant proposes 26 dwelling units containing a total of 30 bedrooms, which is equal to a daily flow of 3,300 gallons at 110 gallons per bedroom.

“The applicant does not propose any new use or intensification of existing uses which would impact any water supply well, pond, or saltwater embayment, and does not propose any use within the 100-foot wetland buffer zone,” the narrative reads.

The 26 units would require 41 parking spaces; the plan identifies 43 spaces. According to the narrative, because the building is a lawfully pre-existing structure proposed for conversion to multifamily use, the 82,443- square-foot lot size is allowable under the zoning bylaw. The site coverage for the project is 48 percent where 80 percent is allowed.

The proposed mix of apartments includes 14 studios, eight one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units. The property has been used as a lodging house or inn going back to the 19th century and served as a nursing home/assisted living facility since the mid-1980s, according to the narrative.

Royal Apartments LLC proposes to reconfigure the two buildings for the apartments, renovating and updating the interior of the structures and performing exterior maintenance and painting. One curb cut will be removed from Parallel Street and new retaining walls installed adjacent to the new parking lot areas.

“The Harwich Center area will benefit from having a greater residential base within walking distance, which will make the area more pedestrian-oriented and increase the number of people visiting local businesses and benefiting the sense of community,” Zehnder wrote in the narrative. “The neighborhood and Harwich Center will not be adversely affected by utilizing a presently unoccupied building for multifamily apartment use, which is closely related to the former assisted living facility in terms of how the site will be accessed, traversed and used, and the manner in which it relates to the surrounding area.”

The planning board hearing on the Royal Apartments project will be held remotely on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m.