Harwich 40B is used to manipulate the system

Summer Woods at the Kendrick Farm in East Harwich 

The developer of cluster subdivision proposed for Kendrick Farm in East Harwich, Harwich One LLC, continues to abuse the Chapter 40B “affordable housing” law in order to manipulate the system and get around legitimate requirements for the site.

Click image to enlargeThis is a 39 acre site all parties recognize as environmentally sensitive: it’s pocked with wetlands; a stream from the property runs into Round Cove; it’s within the area of contribution for town wells; it’s designated by the state as part of the Area of Critical Environmental Concern for Pleasant Bay; and noted as a Significant Natural Resources Area by the Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan.

The land was purchased from the Monomoyicks prior to 1740 by Edward Kendrick and contains an historic home that may be related to his grandson, the American explorer Captain John Kendrick (click the map on right to enlarge).

Property "flipped" 400%  in an hour

The property first sold for $550,000 in October 2000, and an hour later was flipped for $2.25 million. Harwich One resorted to using Chapter 40B, which meant including the minimum of eight “affordable” houses out of a total of 32, in order to get around environmental requirements and the usual review.

The Harwich Board of Selectmen split in a 2-2 vote over whether the site was appropriate. In a compromise, they sent a letter to the state saying that while they strongly supported affordable housing, Chapter 40B should not be used to circumvent legitimate concerns about the project. They listed several conditions that would need to be met, including a central septic system to protect water supplies and Pleasant Bay from increased nitrogen flow.

In a subsequent hearing process before the Harwich Zoning Board of Appeals, after much wrangling, Harwich One offered to install a central septic treatment system, publicly recognizing the cost and engineering needed With the ZBA approval in hand, Harwich One then appealed this as a condition for the project, protesting the cost. This bait-and-switch underscores the bad faith practiced throughout the process.

In filing its appeal with the state Housing Appeals Committee, the developer is now required to file an Environmental Notification Form with the state. This may trigger studies as part of an Environmental Impact Report for the state. Thus far the developer has not agreed to comply.

It’s important to note that the East Harwich Community Association which has led opposition to this project also strongly supports affordable and workforce housing. It has helped to raise funds and convened a joint effort with the town, the Cape Cod Business Roundtable, and others to develop a plan for East Harwich that could include affordable and workforce housing without the loopholes and games played with 40B.

Kendrick Farm is the largest remaining undeveloped parcel in the Pleasant Bay watershed. Ideally, it should be saved from development, which would enhance the value of the recent open space purchase of the Shea property on Muddy Creek. This would also help to protect Pleasant Bay and town water supplies. If development is to occur on the limited buildable upland on the site, it’s vital that it meet necessary environmental standards.

We’re losing the Cape piece by piece and decision by decision. On-going public support to save or protect this important piece of property can make a difference.

Scott Ridley, East Harwich

Editor's note; Donations to support legal action can be sent to: 
Kendrick Farm Legal Fund//P.o.Box 717//Harwich, Ma 02645. 

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