WELLFLEET — The Great White Realty Group has filed suit in Mass. Land Court to overturn recent decisions by the zoning board of appeals that stopped the development of 1.3 acres at 1065 Route 6. Great White Realty wants to lease the property as a contractor’s yard — a use it claims is allowed by right in Wellfleet’s commercial district.
The new owners of the parcel, Donna and Steve DiGiovanni of Truro, who are the principals of Great White Realty, enraged the neighborhood earlier this year when they cut down three-quarters of the trees, removed topsoil, and began grading without getting the necessary permits. Building Inspector Paul Fowler issued stop-work orders, and when the owners’ attorney, Ben Zehnder, appeared before the ZBA to appeal that ruling, nearly 100 residents called in to the meeting to protest Great White Realty’s plan.
The DiGiovannis planned to lease the property to GFM Enterprises, a South Dennis excavating contractor who wanted to use it as a satellite contractor’s yard, according to documents filed with the ZBA. Fowler’s cease-and-desist order, however, said the work being conducted constituted “quarry, sandpit, gravel pit, and soil stripping,” which is prohibited in the commercial zone.
Fowler also determined that two special permits were needed for the planned use: one for bulk storage of sand, loam, T-base, and stone on the property, and a second for screening loam and topsoil.
Great White Realty appealed the building inspector’s order and asked the ZBA to overturn his determination on the need for special permits. At the same time, Zehnder asked that the permits be granted.
Following two nights of hearings, the ZBA upheld Fowler’s order as well as his determination that the DiGiovannis’ proposed uses of the property required special permits. The board then denied the permits.
During discussion at the hearings, Zehnder said GFM Enterprises planned to store vehicles at the site, including a front-end loader, two one-ton trucks, two 60-ton 10-wheelers, two skid-steers, one excavator, one small tilt-top trailer, and one large tilt-top trailer. It would also store supplies, including steel plates, precast risers, piping, outdoor containers, rebar and concrete panels, loam, T-base, and stone. Two employees would go to the property daily, taking vehicles and supplies to and from job sites.
Zehnder argued that none of this activity, other than the open storage of bulk excavation materials, would exceed the town’s definition of a contractor’s yard, which is allowed by right in Wellfleet’s commercial zone.
Attorney David Reid, who represented 88 property owners near or adjacent to the DiGiovannis’ property, argued that the proposal entailed a use “far more active” than permitted in a contractor’s yard. Members of the zoning board agreed.
As part of an initial case management filing made on May 21, Nicole Costanzo, an attorney from KP Law who is representing the zoning board, suggested that the court notify Reid “so that abutters wishing to intervene in this action be given an opportunity to do so.”
Both sides agreed they would be willing to pursue alternative dispute resolution outside of the court proceedings, but Costanzo stipulated that “any alternative dispute resolution method would be subject to the [zoning board] holding a new public hearing.”
There have been no such discussions scheduled to date. Based on the Land Court calendar for the case, disposition could be a year away. The case has been assigned to Judge Gordon Piper.