Pennrose Affordable Housing Development Earns Site Plan Approval

By: Ed Maroney

A 62-unit affordable housing development at the former Cape Cod Five operations center on West Road in Orleans gained site plan approve from the planning board last week. FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS With site plan approval in hand, Pennrose, LLC, which plans to build 62 affordable housing units at the former Cape Cod 5 operations center on West Road, is moving toward a March 17 review by the zoning board of appeals.

Proceeding under a “friendly” Chapter 40B zoning procedure, the developer has been reaching out to various town boards and the community for comments on its proposal, and the zoning board itself has invited commentary from many town departments and committees. The ZBA’s decision – which can be appealed at the state level – will be the final one at the town level.

On Feb. 17, Pennrose presented revised plans to the site plan review committee. As promised after an earlier informal review, a fire lane has been added that runs around the back of the existing “flats” apartment building and the proposed addition. Part of the entrance courtyard at the front of the building will have concrete pavers allowing fire trucks to pull in closer.

“The fire department is very appreciative of all parties’ commitment to safety,” Fire Inspector Greg Baker said. “The chief and the deputy and I are more than satisfied.”

The area near the entrance off West Road has been adjusted to preserve the divided boulevard there, an element the company believes adds to the appearance of the site.

“There were some stacking issues and lane issues related to parking for the townhouses,” said architect Andrew Stebbins of The Architectural Team. “What we’ve done is move two units from the townhouse buildings, one from each, and put two additional units in the flats building. That freed up some space in front of the townhouses. With the shorter buildings, we changed from head-in parking to angle parking. We also modified the drive lane and widened out the radius so a large truck can make that turn around the boulevard without having to go into the site.”

Stebbins said renderings and elevations for the buildings, which will display design details, “are being generated for the architectural review committee,” where Pennrose is tentatively scheduled to appear March 11.

The site plan review committee and the company reviewed landscaping provisions, something very much on the minds of the site’s neighbors in Landings Edge Condominium at 33 West Rd. In a Feb. 3 letter to the company and town boards, condo trustees secretary Sandy Chernick wrote that the “new development will cause enormous changes to the population density – potentially resulting in traffic problems, noise and more… 19 West property has been occupied ‘9 to 5’, not evenings, not weekends, and there was no seasonal change… We’re concerned about night lights, about noise, about outdoor gatherings that might be of a raucous nature… Whereas the parking lot had served as a buffer and when CC5 arrived they generously assisted with considerable plantings; there is nothing in the plans that suggests barriers of any sort or plans in that direction.”

“We do have a tree buffer between the condo (and the new development),” Stebbins said at the Feb. 17 site plan meeting. “We’re working with the existing grading without any tall walls. We’ll get some tree buffer between the properties.” Regarding traffic, in its comments to the ZBA, the Cape Cod Commission wrote that the development “is not likely to result in a significant increase in traffic volumes compared to the existing office uses.”

In her letter, Chernick noted that the “19 West property is at the top of the hill above Landings Edge which could result in drainage issues.”

“We’ve completed the preliminary drainage design,” Horsley Witten Group President Rich Claytor said at the Feb. 17 meeting. “We will have water quality treatment for a one-inch storm and then two large underground recharge systems that will mange a full 100-year storm on-site. We will completely replace the existing drainage system.”

The ZBA is continuing to collect comments from committees as well as public comment. The council on aging board has asked the ZBA “to designate several affordable housing units for seniors with first floor living and handicapped access. There is currently a 5-7 year waiting list for senior housing in Orleans where 55 percent of the population are older adults.”

Last month, the development was determined by the state Department of Housing and Community Development to be eligible for funding through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program.

In other housing news, the affordable housing committee and affordable housing trust board plan to meet March 2 to discuss options for the Governor Prence property.