EASTHAM — The documents that the T-Time Development Committee collected for its second meeting on Jan. 28 included the North Eastham Village Center plan created back in 2007. The 11 members of the new committee have been tasked with recommending uses for the 11-acre former driving range on Route 6, now owned by the town.
“It’s what that group thought was important 10 to 12 years ago,” Chair Scott Kerry said. “It’s not based on T-Time, but it’s in that region. At the time, it included the Purcell project and up on Holmes Road.” The Purcell project is now the Village at Nauset Green affordable housing development.
Kerry ticked off the 2007 plan’s priorities: a vibrant economic center, mixed-use development, smooth traffic flow, affordable housing, senior rental housing, and road-front improvements. “There are many of the same themes 12 years later,” he said.
“A lot of those concepts were incorporated into zoning when we did the DCPC [District of Critical Planning Concern] and rezoned that district,” said Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe.
The old Village Center plan had the former Purcell land as “kind of the keystone property,” Town Planner Paul Lagg said. “There was a potential town center there,” possibly including a relocated post office. Conceptually, Lagg said, the size of the T-Time and Nauset Green properties “is close. T-Time is actually better terrain.”
The committee agreed that the next step was to take a walk.
The members will walk the T-Time site at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24. “I’d love everyone to see the same thing,” Kerry told his colleagues. “I might see something different than you.” Beebe and Lagg will come along to answer questions.
“I’ve been around Eastham a long time and there were certain areas I didn’t know were there,” Kerry said of the site. “Paul will provide us with a really nice overlay map of the adjacent parcels. For myself, I’m interested in the parcels from this parcel to Brackett Road and along that property in back. I think it’s the backbone of the potential use of the property. If you look from Route 6, it’s behind Ponderosa [Landscaping]; it’s a pretty good chunk.” Committee Vice Chair Karen Strauss suggested looking north toward Nauset Road as well.
The committee is planning for months of studying documents and listening to the public before bringing its preferred options to the select board.
“The earliest we’ll have something is 15 months out,” Kerry said. “Nothing for this town meeting.”
In the stack of reading was the town’s recently completed five-year strategic plan. “Did you eye any particular action steps that this parcel could be used for?” member Suzanne Bryan asked those at the table who had worked on the document. Strauss said the plan didn’t focus on particular parcels, and Beebe said the idea was to lay out the town’s priorities in a way that “a group of people could ask, does this fit or doesn’t it, in yearone or year five.”
Whatever the site becomes, it won’t be a nature preserve. “This is very unlikely to be a good place for habitat,” Strauss said. “It’s been developed.” She said it contained no wetland and was not home to any of the state’s species of concern.
Also among the documents was a report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) that Kerry said “covered a lot of the same themes we continue to talk about — how to make Route 6 the best it can be.” Member Jacqueline O’Rourke said that the ULI recommended that the town hire an economic development coordinator, and Beebe noted that the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes a planner and economic development specialist working under Lagg who “will be very helpful to T-Time. We will bring that person right into your group as soon as we have him or her.”
Lagg asked members to bear with him on a subject that might be “a little into the weeds” in discussing a document from the Cape Cod Commission on “form-based zoning,” which “gets to regulating the form, the look, and the layout of buildings as opposed to the uses.” The study looked at sites in Eastham and other towns to see how to develop mixed-use, higher-density housing that fits in with the aesthetics of the town, “so it looks like Eastham,” he said.
Homework in hand, members prepared to leave as Kerry said, “There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t have somebody telling me, ‘Don’t rush. Don’t just jump at something.’ This is an opportunity to really think outside the box. What is it we want to do for our community with this parcel? There’s an opportunity for everyone to learn along the way.”