The Bourne Planning Board has granted an extension of a special permit for a development at the site of a former motel on Scenic Highway.
With the extension, developers have another six months to finalize plans for the property.
The parcel at 829 Scenic Highway, formerly the Ye Olde Homestead motel, is situated at the corner of Herring Pond Road and Scenic Highway.
The original project was approved by the planning board in April 2009. Plans call for construction of two mixed-use buildings, with six commercial units on the first floor and 12 residential units above.
Board chairman Steven P. Strojny told the board during a remote meeting Thursday of last week, October 8, that the project was “held up over the last several years with some title issues.” Those issues for the most part have been resolved, he said.
“There’s still some matters to be worked out,” he said, “and we would like to see them work those problems out and move forward with project.”
Mr. Strojny added that he did not see any downside to granting the request for a six-month continuance. He did, however, suggest that if the applicants come to the board for another continuance, they be required to provide some explanation as to the nature of the issues holding up the project.
“At some point, I don’t think we can just indefinitely give continuances,” he said. “It has to come to a conclusion one way or another.”
Concerns about too many extensions for the project have been expressed by members of the planning board dating back to 2017. Former board member Robert J. Gendron noted back then that the project was granted a four-year extension in 2011 and another two-year extension in 2015.
In 2017 the board approved a one-year extension with a proviso that the permit could be pulled if substantial progress had not been made on the project by then.
Board member M. Elizabeth Brown recalled discussions the board has had relative to granting an extension. She said she understood that, at present, breaking ground on the project might be held up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, she said, the constant delays to getting started “really is feeling interminable.”
“I feel I can vote for the extension because we’re in a difficult moment,” Ms. Brown said, “but I think we’re really reaching the end of this.”
Town Planner Coreen V. Moore said the town has changed its stormwater management regulations since the applicant submitted plans for the project. Ms. Moore said the planning board has requested a redesign of the stormwater management system, but the developers have only submitted the old plans.
Member Elmer I. Clegg suggested that the board issue the requested extension contingent on the developers submitting a stormwater management plan that is in compliance with the town’s new regulations. Submittal of the new plan, he added, should be done at least one month before the continuance expires. Mr. Strojny concurred with the suggestion.
“I like the idea,” he said. “It will require effort and money, and it may show how committed they are to the project.”
Mr. Clegg also suggested that the continuance be made contingent on the applicants providing the board with an explanation of issues that are holding up the project, if they ask the board for any additional extension. Mr. Strojny said that contingency would be unnecessary because the applicants have to appear before the board to present their revised stormwater management plan.
“At that time, we can ask any questions we want relative to the project,” he said.
The board voted unanimously in favor of granting the requested extension with the stormwater management plan contingency in place.