Wastewater Issues Could Impede Buzzards Bay Hotel Plan

The ongoing problem of what to do with Bourne’s wastewater has surfaced as a key issue for developers of a proposed mixed-use complex in downtown Buzzards Bay, which is slated to include apartments, restaurants and a hotel with conference center. 

The complex, to be built in three phases over the next six to eight years, could generate up to 90,000 gallons of wastewater daily once it has been completed.

The first phase would result in 30,000 gallons daily. The development group would like the town to approve sending that initial amount to a wastewater treatment facility, as part of Bourne’s contract with Wareham.

At their meeting Tuesday night, June 3, the Bourne Board of Sewer Commissioners expressed reservations over giving the group that much of an allocation. Questions were raised as to whether giving up that much of the contracted amount of wastewater Bourne can send to Wareham might have a negative impact on other business development in town.

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“What’s going to happen down the road after this if any other developments try to come in on other parts of town?” commission member Donald E. (Jerry) Ellis asked.

The developers are looking to construct a mixed-use complex at 25 Perry Avenue, in between Main Street and the Cape Cod Canal. The finished project would include a hotel and conference center and a “destination restaurant.” The complex, to be constructed in three phases on 15 acres fronting the canal, would sit adjacent to Keystone Place, the new senior assisted-living development now under construction behind the Buzzards Bay post office.

Phase one of the project would consist of residential, retail and restaurant space. Phase two would be a hotel/conference center, and phase three would be more residential and retail space. The phase one complex would include 144 two- and three-bedroom units, with an emphasis on two-bedroom residences, with sub-surface parking for residents. Surface parking will be available for patrons of the restaurant and the stores. The complex would reach a height of seven stories at its peak and step down to four stories.

Town administrator Thomas M. Guerino confirmed that Bourne’s contract with Wareham allows for 200,000 gallons of wastewater daily to be sent to Wareham’s wastewater facility. After allocations to Hideaway Village and Keystone Place, plus the town’s own peak usage, granting the Perry Avenue developers’ request would leave the town with a remainder of roughly 12,000 to 15,000 gallons daily. Mr. Guerino said that was not an exact figure.

Commission chairman Linda M. Zuern asked if the developers had a plan for putting a wastewater treatment plant on their property. Joseph E. Longo, a civil engineer with the Horsley Witten Group said there were no plans for such a plant because state DEP regulations forbid putting one within the 100-year AE flood zone, where the complex would be located. Ms. Zuern said that she checked with people at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth, which is located in a flood zone, and they have a treatment plant and leaching field. Mr. Longo said those could have been in place before the current DEP regulations were passed.

Mr. Ellis asked if the developers would consider installing a wastewater treatment plant if the flood zone issue does not prove to be a problem. Mr. Longo said that the initial 30,000-gallon allocation would be less expensive and allow them to get up and running immediately. After completion of phase one, the group would work with the town on a treatment plant.

“When phase two and three begin, we would work with the town on how to do the wastewater treatment aspect,” he said.

Commission vice chairman Donald J. Pickard suggested that if the residential units are sold as condominiums, the town should collect a one-time sewer connection fee of $15,000 from each unit, and levy annual sewer fees on the owners, too.

“That would go a long way toward solving planning our wastewater disposal problems,” Mr. Pickard said.

During public comment, Bourne Planning Board chairman Christopher J. Farrell told the commissioners that the town has put off approving this kind of development for far too long. He said that there has been talk about how to use the canal in order to attract business and people to the town, and “this is it.”

Mr. Farrell said that between the changes in zoning that Bourne has adopted and the recent upgrades done as part of the streetscape project, the town has done just about everything it can to make Main Street successful.

“The town now has to work with these folks or anyone else who comes before them to address these wastewater issues,” he said.

Mr. Farrell also addressed Ms. Zuern’s comments regarding the wastewater treatment facility and leaching field on the grounds of Sea Crest. Mr. Farrell said that the current zoning regulations forbidding a treatment facility or leaching field in a flood zone were adopted years after Sea Crest was built. He said the resort was recently allowed to upgrade its existing systems.

Cape Cod Canal Chamber of Commerce president Marie J. Oliva echoed Mr. Farrell’s support of the project. Ms. Oliva said that there has been talk of revitalizing Main Street in Buzzards Bay for 40 years.

“If we wait for some of the businesses along Main Street to take action, to improve or expand their business, we’ll be waiting another 40 years,” she said.
She noted that when Canalside Commons was proposed off the Bourne Bridge Rotary, many people objected and said such a huge development belonged on Main Street Buzzards Bay, not the south side of the bridge.

“Here we have now, finally, after all these years, a development on Main Street, Buzzards Bay, where everyone said it should be,” she said.

Buzzards Bay resident James A. Mulvey spoke out in sharp opposition to the project, calling it a “monstrosity” that is “too big, too out of scale.” He called construction of the complex “the destruction of a village.”

“Residents came here because of the village atmosphere and this is no longer going to be a village,” he said.

Planning board member Elmer I. Clegg voiced his support for the project, saying that this and commuter rail are key to the revitalization of Buzzards Bay. Mr. Clegg suggested that a cap be placed on how long the developers can have the 30,000-gallon allocation, and a similar end date be renegotiated with Keystone Place. The two properties should then work with the town on construction of a wastewater treatment plant that would service both properties, he said.

Mr. Clegg also suggested that the developers revamp their design to include a swimming pool, which he felt that residents or hotel patrons would want.

Tuesday’s meeting was only a discussion so commissioners did not vote on the 30,000-gallon allocation. The commissioners decided that they would vote on the allocation request during their meeting on July 8.

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