NORTH TRURO — A water line will be coming to Highland Road to service the 40-unit Cloverleaf housing project and bring new economic development to the scrappy commercial area here.
A few weeks ago the state announced a $1.2-million grant from the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to extend the Provincetown-Truro municipal water line by 1,500 feet.
The extension is necessary for the Cloverleaf development to be constructed on Highland Road at its intersection with Route 6. But it will also correct a longstanding problem on Highland Road: businesses in the area rely on a 2.5-inch municipal water line behind the properties on the north side of the street.
Provincetown DPW Director Richard Waldo said he doesn’t know when that water line was put in. “It was back in the day,” he said. “But it was not done properly and is inadequate” to service the handful of businesses on Highland Road, which include Chequessett Chocolate, Grozier Square Automotive Repair, and the Captain’s Choice restaurant. Truro DPW Director Jarrod Cabral said he also has no idea when or how the small water line was installed.
When the new water main goes in, however, the town will need to come up with a procedure for property owners to hook up to it. They cannot be forced to pay the expense of a water hookup, Cabral said.
Joel Grozier, owner of the auto repair shop, said everyone will be happy to connect with a new water main. When he took over Thomas “Punchy” Prada’s garage he had to get an easement to hook up to the small water line behind his property.
The new water main will come from Route 6A down Highland Road and under the highway overpass to the 3.91-acre lot where the Cloverleaf project will be, Waldo said.
Water will mean economic development on Highland Road, which is “oddly underdeveloped,” said state Sen. Julian Cyr, a Truro native. “It should be a little village. By extending water to Highland Road, it certainly benefits the businesses that are there. It makes all properties much more valuable.”
On Thursday, Dec. 5, at 5:30 p.m. the Truro Zoning Board of Appeals will continue its review of the Cloverleaf project. The ZBA must decide whether to grant waivers from several zoning regulations, including a waiver that would permit a multi-unit property in an area zoned for single-family homes. The developer has latitude to request the waivers under Chapter 40B of the state’s General Laws in towns where less than 10 percent of the housing stock is deemed affordable. Only 2.3 percent of Truro’s housing is so designated.
The Community Housing Resource, which is developing the Cloverleaf, plans 40 units containing 70 bedrooms. It will certainly make the neighborhood more robust, particularly if the state adds sidewalks and improves the parking situation along the street, Cyr said. Parking is currently “a nightmare in the summertime,” he added.
The long-suffering business owners of Highland Road met the promise of more customers, employees, water, and road improvements with varying degrees of wariness.
Josiah Mayo, an owner of Chequessett Chocolate, said if one person lives in the neighborhood and works for them, that would be great.
“That’s the biggest thing for us,” Mayo said. “We just have real problems as do many of our colleagues finding employees. We are in production year-round.
“The demographic predictions for Truro are brutal,” he added. “It’s only old people living here. So summer is summer and then there will be empty houses. Anything that even symbolically counteracts that trend has to be embraced. Otherwise we just face a weird noncommunity.”
Grozier was even less hopeful.
He said the Cloverleaf housing project is “20 years too late.”
The fact that the Salty Market (formerly Dutra’s Market) is closing for the winter for the first time in his lifetime tells you everything you need to know, said Grozier.
“There are no year-round people and no year-round jobs,” he said. “People are leaving Truro in droves.”
In a November housing lottery in Provincetown, 153 people applied to receive 11 units of affordable housing.
Grozier said he doesn’t think the rents will be affordable at the Cloverleaf.
The staff report on the project, however, states that half of the 40 units will be available for those earning 30 to 60 percent of the Barnstable County median income (which for a family of four is $91,300) and 12 units will be rented to those earning up to 110 percent of median income. Seven units are market rate.