Developers Pitch 96-Unit Housing Development Off Sisson Road

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Development , Housing and homelessness

This plan shows the location of a proposed 96-unit housing development off Sisson Road. CATALYST ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS GRAPHIC

HARWICH — The owners of the Chloe’s Path subdivision off Sisson Road are proposing to build 96 housing units on 8.14 acres to the rear of the town’s public safety facilities.

Landowners Peter Donovan and Gary Terry and their consultants want to engage in a preliminary discussion with the selectmen about the scope of the project, the regulatory process and community outreach, said Attorney Andrew Singer.

The plans floated Monday night call for two three-story buildings, each containing 48 units, to be located at the southern end of Chloe’s Path. The buildings would provide 62 one-bedroom units, 24 two-bedroom units and 10 three-bedroom units. There would be parking garages underneath the buildings.

Singer said 25 percent of the units would affordable, deed restricted to tenants earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income. The remaining rentals would be for workforce and market rate tenants.

Donovan told selectmen he has been looking for the best use for the seven-lot subdivision. “We think we’ve found it,” he said. A market study was conducted and the potential for the project was “viewed very strong,” Singer added.

As rentals, all 96 units would count under state Department of Housing and Community Development standards toward Harwich’s subsidized housing inventory, Singer said, and would increase the town’s percentage of qualifying residential units qualifying from 5.44 percent to 7 percent.

The project would be a “friendly 40B,” he said, adding that the developers are committed to working with the town. A 40B permit allows waivers of local regulations for projects involving affordable housing.

The property was a 12-acre parcel containing 3.91 acres of wetlands, but the wetland side of the property, abutting Forest Street, was donated to the conservation commission for open space preservation. Singer said the housing will be situated on the existing topography. No work will be conducted within the 50-foot buffer to the wetlands, and the buildings and 165 parking spaces will be 100 feet from wetlands.

An advanced amphidrone wastewater system, designed for tertiary nitrogen removal and treatment, would be built to handle the 144 bedroom capacity, and would require a state Department of Environmental Protection Groundwater Discharge Permit. The system would also be designed to connect to the town sewer system once it is available along Sisson Road.

Project architect Tim Sawyer of Catalyst Architecture and Interiors of Yarmouth provided schematic drawings of the development showing that the buildings would not be visible from Sisson Road at the Chloe’s Path entrance, across from the cultural center. There would be a minimal view of the buildings along Sisson Road east along the north side of the police station. A bus stop would be located at the entrance of Chloe’s Path.

Selectmen Chairman Larry Ballantine wanted to know if a traffic study was done. Singer said sight distances for the entrance along Sisson Road were examined, but no traffic study has been done yet.

Selectman Mary Anderson asked why with only 20 percent of the units considered affordable, and 80 percent being workforce and market rate units, 100 percent of the development gets added to the town’s inventory. Mark O’Hagan, the project's affordable housing consultant, said provisions are included in the state statues as a “perk” to create more rental housing in the state, he said.

Ballantine was glad to see the project brought forward in its early stages, but said the developers have a lot of work ahead to bring the neighbors on board. Singer said the plan will be brought to department heads for an informal review and the developers would reach out to the affordable housing trust and the community.

“Do community engagement first,” said Selectman Donald Howell, chairman of the trust. “We don’t want to be used as a trial balloon.”

Town departments and committees were instructed by Powers several months ago to not review major conceptual projects such as this until a 40B application was filed. Powers urged town officials to “follow parliamentary procedure,” and not get involved until the board of selectmen has been advised there is a pending 40B. He gave the directive after developer Chris Wise met with the town’s housing committee on a 100-unit conceptual plan in East Harwich.

Powers said Singer reached out to assistant town administrator Meggan Eldredge and met with Powers, Eldredge, and community development director Jon Idman on May 12 to discuss the conceptual plans. No 40B permit has been filed, but Powers said the staff intercepted this and brought it to selectmen “so it would be heard here first rather than on social media.”

“We’ll assemble a community development team to make sure we are as fully knowledgeable as possible,” Powers told selectmen.

This is not the first time discussions have taken place on locating a multifamily development on the parcel. In October 2019, Donovan and Charlie Adams, regional vice president of Pennrose Brick and Mortar Heart and Soul, made a presentation to the affordable housing trust. That discussion centered around a 50-unit development.