WELLFLEET — Myya Beck-Baum and Thor Baum are going through the town’s permitting process to demolish a historic downtown home and rebuild it to house a fitness studio with three residential units. They will need relief from the town’s parking requirements.
The zoning board of appeals is considering their proposal to limit the parking to just eight spaces, for residential and handicapped use only. The town’s zoning bylaw requires 18 spaces for a business in a building of this size. By reducing the requirement to just eight spots, traffic around the property, on both Briar Lane and Ryder Court, would go down, said Ben Zehnder, the couple’s attorney. The expectation is that people visiting the studio would park instead on Main Street, at the parking lot across from Wellfleet Preservation Hall, and at the town hall lot.
The exemption from parking rules has raised objections from at least one neighbor, Phil Richardson, who said Olaf Valli, the owner of the Sickday Surf Shop, had to provide parking for his business when he went before the ZBA a few years ago. The late Bruce Drucker was on the board at that time.
“You hammered Olaf about the parking,” said Richardson at the Nov. 12 ZBA meeting. “Bruce made sure that Olaf had parking. You guys have got to get your act together and get consistent.”
For several months, the zoning board of appeals has been reviewing the proposal to rebuild 20 Briar Lane, a Greek and Gothic Revival house that has been used as a year-round apartment house for years.
Due to its high-profile location in the town center and its historic significance, the historical commission has already ordered that the owners delay demolition of the house for the maximum time allowed by law, 18 months. The commission’s hope was that the owners would, during that time, find a way to preserve at least some elements of the historic house — the façades being of greatest interest.
Both the historical commission and the Cape Cod Commission suggested alternatives, but the owners said each was impractical for the dilapidated structure.
The owners’ June application to the ZBA confirmed that they plan to demolish the building when the 18_month delay period is up in October 2021, and they are seeking a special permit from the zoning board to rebuild the pre-existing, nonconforming structure.
Wil Sullivan, a member of the ZBA, was also on the parking committee, which studied beach and downtown parking. That committee concluded that no more commercial uses should be allowed downtown without adequate parking, Sullivan said.
Trevor Pontbriand, the ZBA chair, said that there is no way that the owners could provide the 18 parking spaces required by the bylaw.
The applicants are both local business owners: Myya Beck-Baum runs Heart Core Fitness Studio, currently on Commercial Street, and Thor Baum owns a construction company. Though it’s Heart Core Fitness that would be located at 20 Briar Lane, neighbors say that Thor Baum has already expanded a shed on that property without a permit. He uses the shed for his business, said Brad Williams, a neighbor.
“He runs his business out of 20 Briar Lane,” said Williams. “He has a number of different trucks going in and out.”
Baum admitted he did enlarge the shed without a permit. But he said he runs his business out of his home across the street, where he has an office and a workshop.
Pontbriand said the current list of the proposed uses of the property are three residences, an exercise studio, a juice bar, and a garage workspace.
The couple will return to the ZBA on Dec. 10, at which time Zehnder said he will present a more complete narrative about the planned uses of the property.