The Bourne Conservation Commission has green-lighted plans for a new Massachusetts Maritime Academy parking lot.
The new lot measures approximately two acres and will make one of the most-desirable locations in the downtown business district untaxable.
The lot will be located directly opposite Bourne Town Hall on the newly created Kendall Rae Place, adjacent to the new Hampton Inn. It is the first parcel on the left after turning off Perry Avenue onto the new road.
The commission gave its approval during a remote Zoom meeting on June 18. Discussion of the project’s plans centered primarily on storm water supervision and connections with the new road. Conservation Agent Samuel O. Haines said the project met all Massachusetts storm water standards, so the commission approved it.
“We did condition the project that the town administrator and DPW director would need to approve any improvements within the town layout such as improving the existing access path,” Mr. Haines said.
Last September, academy president Rear Admiral Francis X. McDonald wrote the board of selectmen to inform the members of the academy’s plan to build a parking area similar to the one at Academy Drive and Taylor Road. He added that the academy would be open to “a shared-use approach to this lot.”
“Especially during the summer months where access to additional parking proximate to Main Street and to the Canal walkway would be advantageous for the public as well as local businesses,” the admiral wrote.
Town officials have been critical of the academy’s purchase of the property and its plan for a parking lot. Purchase of the property makes the two-acre parcel untaxable, given the academy’s non-tax status as a state entity.
Town records show that the academy owns 42.73 acres of property in Buzzards Bay, including the parcel approved for the new parking lot. The academy bought the property in the middle of 2019, so it is taxable through the end of this fiscal year. As of July 1, however, it becomes tax exempt.
Some town officials have also opined that, while the town does need additional parking, that particular lot is better suited for a commercial enterprise, such as a restaurant overlooking the Cape Cod Canal.
Town Planner Coreen V. Moore has noted that the property is located in what has been labeled the Downtown Core, or DTC. Virtually any type of enterprise, from a restaurant to a retail store to a nightclub, can go in the DTC, with stipulations, Ms. Moore said.
There is a minimum space requirement of 3,500 square feet for development in the DTC, Ms. Moore said. The Kendall Rae Place lot measures two acres, which comes to 87,120 square feet, far exceeding the zoning requirement.
The academy’s vice president of operations, Captain Allen G. Metcalfe Jr., said the parking lot project does not require any additional approvals afterthe permission from the conservation commission. Capt. Metcalfe said the academy’s plan is to start construction on the new parking lot on Wednesday, August 5.