Royal Apartments Approval Appealed By Neighbors

By: William F. Galvin

Neighbors to The Royal Apartment project on the corner of Bank and Parallel streets have appealed the planning board’s approval in Barnstable Superior Court. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — Neighbors have appealed the planning board’s approval of the conversion of the former Royal of Harwich assisted living facility into 26 apartments.

The re-development of the interior of the structure on the corner of Bank and Parallel streets was met with opposition from neighbors, who expressed concerns with the density of the proposed development on the 1.8 acre lot, as well as parking, traffic and pedestrian issues.

Attorney David Reid sued the board in Barnstable Superior Court on behalf of Gregory Winston and David Plunkett, former owners of the Royal property and owners of the Winstead Inn, across Parallel Street from the former 31-unit assisted living facility.

The Royal Apartments LLC sought approval for the conversion for more than a year. After town meeting relaxed the town’s multifamily zoning bylaw in September, the property owner submitted a new application for the project in November.

The planning board conducted four public hearings between December and February, after which the board approved three special permits and waivers for the project. Special permits were issued for multifamily use in the multifamily residential low district; use in the Harwich Center overlay district; and site plan review. The major waiver related to parking setbacks.

In its finding, the planning board concluded the project would have no adverse affect on the neighborhood, that it is in an appropriate location and consistent with village development. There would be no nuisance or serious hazard to vehicles or pedestrians, and the sewer system would have to be appropriately designed for the number of units.

The Royal Apartments agreed to provide two of the units in the development for low and moderate income families. The attorney for the developer, Benjamin Zehnder, also said the property owner would donated $10,000 to the town’s sidewalk improvement fund.

The suit alleges that the planning board's decision was arbitrary and capricious, not supported by the facts and/or is beyond the board's jurisdiction and authority. Winston and David Plunkett ask the court to annul the decision.