A new mixed-use, multipurpose complex proposed for construction on Kendall Rae Place in Buzzards Bay faces a steep climb for approval from the Bourne Planning Board. Several board members have expressed concerns and reservations about the project, ranging from the proposed height of the building to the project’s compliance with zoning regulations to its lack of real benefits for the town’s residents.
The proposed project is a residential/commercial/retail complex with space for a restaurant. It would be constructed at 2 Kendall Rae Place, opposite Keystone Place and adjacent to the new Hampton Inn Cape Cod Canal.
Jason Pannone with Oxford Development Group provided details of the development to the board during its meeting last Wednesday, November 17. Mr. Pannone said the goal with the new complex is to provide more housing and commerce to the area.
As presented to the board, the development would hold 192 residential apartments with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Ten percent of the units will be affordable, he said. In addition, there would be 26,000 square feet of commercial space, some retail and office space, as well as room for a restaurant.
“We strived to look at this project to say how can we maximize what’s here and really entertain the needs of the town,” he said. “Not do what we want to do, but entertain the needs of the town.”
Board member David J. O’Connor was one of the harshest critics of the project as it was proposed. Mr. O’Connor took issue with the design calling for the building being set back from the street with parking in front. He calculated that the development will need a daily sewer allocation of at least 50,000 gallons, which comes to half the capacity of the new wastewater treatment facility in Buzzards Bay.
Mr. O’Connor said he identified eight of the town’s bylaws from which the project would need relief. The structure is also “at cross purposes of the key organizing or town principles” in the recently adopted Local Comprehensive Plan, the Buzzards Bay vision plan and the town’s architectural guidelines, he said.
Mr. O’Connor described the project, as proposed, as looking like “55 pounds in a 40-pound sack.” He chastised the plan for its lack of any benefit to town residents due to a lack of room for open space or places in which the public can gather.
“It’s got to go way beyond providing rental units and affordable housing,” he said, “because you’re sucking up half the allocation of the sewage treatment plant. What’s in it for us, bluntly?”
Board member Elmer I. Clegg said the proposed design has the height of the building at six stories. Mr. Clegg said there are only two five-story buildings in Bourne, the Hampton Inn and one of the dormitories at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Board member Christopher J. Farrell, a former employee of Mass Maritime, confirmed that the academy has six dormitories and that four of them are six stories in height.
Mr. Clegg argued that a six-story building runs counter to the quaint nature and ambience of both Bourne and the rest of Cape Cod. He said his own research showed only two other five-story buildings on the Upper Cape, the Admiralty Inn & Suites in East Falmouth and Cape Cod Hospital.
“There is not another six-story building on Cape Cod. The town needs to decide whether we’re going to be Cape Cod, since we’re a part of Cape Cod, or are we going to be a suburb of New Bedford or some other city,” he said.
Mr. Clegg called for the board to seek out public opinion on the project and to abide by what residents have to say about the project.
“We’re elected officials,” he said. “Our job is to do what’s best for the Town of Bourne, and that means to be heavily influenced by what the people would like.”
Board chairman Daniel L. Doucette reminded members of the old Norcross Hotel in Monument Beach. The hotel, which was built in the late 1800s and burned down in the 1950s, stood at five stories high, he said. He cautioned Mr. Clegg to be careful when citing the Cape’s appeal, given the size of buildings built a century ago.
“You’re talking about Cape Cod charm,” Mr. Doucette said. “There’s ebbs and flows on all kinds of charm. We have to look at this project, its benefits and detriments, and make the best decision for the town.”
Mr. Doucette also pointed out that the town’s zoning bylaws were put in place to encourage growth in the downtown Buzzards Bay business district. He said the bylaws give a builder four stories by right and the possibility of five or six stories by special permit granted by the planning board.
Mr. Farrell added that the zoning bylaws were adopted unanimously at a past Town Meeting based on the advice of the Cape Cod Commission to limit construction sprawl. He said the commission advised building upward as opposed to sideways.
“I think that’s why people voted unanimously to approve our downtown district,” he said.
Board member John G. Carroll concurred that the proposed height of the building is too high. Mr. Carroll said he would be upset if he were a resident of Keystone Place and his view of the Cape Cod Canal were now blocked by the new structure.
Mr. Carroll also expressed concerns relative to the wastewater issue raised by Mr. O’Connor. He said there is uncertainty about the impact the substantial wastewater contribution coming from the Kendall Rae complex will have on the existing system.
“I want to follow this carefully, and at the moment I’m not too impressed with what I see,” he said.
Mr. Clegg also pointed out that the plan for the 2 Kendall Rae Place project shows buildings on two of the lots that were created when the land was subdivided, Lot 4 and Lot 3A. Mr. Clegg said that when the subdivision was approved Lot 3A was permitted solely for utilities and providing access to Lot 4.
There should not be any building on Lot 3A, he said. He argued that the project as presented should be disqualified for that reason and the developers should come back with a different plan.
“I’d love to entertain a plan that didn’t show construction on Lot 3A,” Mr. Clegg said. “To me, it’s a showstopper.”
Mr. Pannone thanked the board for its feedback and acknowledged that his team has “some things to work on.” He assured the members that they will take into consideration the board’s concerns over “aesthetics, placement, counts and height.”
“Our intention when we came here was to provide something beneficial to the town, that the town will be proud of,” he said.
Board members approved a motion to have Environmental Partners conduct a peer-reviewed study of the proposed project plan. The board also approved asking the Cape Cod Commission to conduct a review of the traffic study portion of the plan.
The hearing on the project was continued to the board’s meeting on January 13.