EASTHAM — A plan to demolish three dwellings and a garage in the Cape Cod National Seashore and build a 3,481-square-foot house and garage in their place received site plan approval and a word of caution from the planning board at an Oct. 21 hearing.
Planning board chair Dan Coppelman noted a July 31, 2020, letter from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior regarding the project at 885 Doane Road, between Nauset Light and Coast Guard Beach.
“They specifically say if this project proceeds to obtain board approval based on the altered and revisionist accounting of zoning potential by the applicants, moving forward with the project would subject the property to revocation of the certificate of suspension of condemnation,” said Coppelman. “Where does that leave the applicants in this?”
Both the town’s zoning bylaw for the Seashore district and the Seashore’s use guidelines for private property within the park limit expansion to 50 percent of the habitable square footage on the property as of Sept. 1, 1959. But the Seashore and the town disagree on how many dwellings should be included in the calculation.
The Seashore has maintained that only the main residence on a property with multiple dwellings should be included. At an Oct. 1 hearing, Eastham’s zoning board of appeals followed town counsel’s recommendation that the square footage of all three dwellings should be included in the calculation and overturned a decision by Eastham’s previous building commissioner that a special permit was required based on calculations using just one of the dwellings.
“I’m not saying I have a problem with the calculation including three residences,” said Coppelman. “I guess they’re proceeding with full caution, knowing that ultimately if they decided to revoke your approval, then you’ll have to deal with it at that point in time.”
National Park planner Lauren McKean noted at the Oct. 1 meeting that the town’s zoning needed some revision to agree with the park’s guidelines.
Attorney Ben Zehnder, representing property owners Jeffrey and Mary McAleney, said he didn’t know whether the Seashore would move to revoke the certificate.
“We’ll certainly address that question if it comes up,” said Zehnder. “I don’t think it’s a question for this board to consider, meaning you have to work under your own bylaws and either issue or deny approval based on the standards in your own bylaws.”
“I agree with you that it’s not, in my opinion, part of this board’s purview to shall we say regulate that particular aspect of the project,” said Coppelman. “I’m willing to accept the zoning board of appeals position that the application for the square footage is correct.”
The planning board approved the plan, subject to conditions including board of health approval prior to issuance of a building permit.