Developer Vows No Future Projects In Town Following Board Decision
By: James Kinsella
Developer Charles F. “Chad” Doe has been involved in some of the most widely praised redevelopment projects in Hyannis in recent years.
They include 540 Main Street with its offices and retailers, 68 Center Street with its residential condominiums and retailers, and 46 North Street with its medical offices.
Another project is the redevelopment of the defunct nursing home at 89 Lewis Bay Road that had been known as the Greenery into residential condominiums, office space and a culinary school.
The existing regulatory agreement allowed the structure to be expanded to four stories.
On Monday night, after the planning board voted against his request to eliminate the remaining mitigation costs associated the project, Mr. Doe said his development work in the town of Barnstable is over.
“This will be the final project I do in town because of this,” Mr. Doe said outside the hearing room at Barnstable Town Hall following the vote.
At a public hearing Monday evening before the planning board, Mr. Doe and his attorney, David V. Lawler of Hyannis, argued that the economy had changed since the town reached a regulatory agreement in 2007 for redevelopment of the property.
The redevelopments, they said, had brought more than 300 jobs to downtown Hyannis and, by the completion of the Greenery, would push the anticipated annual property tax revenue of the properties from about $100,000 to $500,000 a year.
To risk jeopardizing future development by insisting on mitigation, Mr. Lawler said, would be “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
To that end, Mr. Lawler and Mr. Doe asked that the board recommend elimination of mitigation payments.
Planning board members acknowledged that the economy had slumped since the 2007 agreement was reached.
To that end, the board proposed reducing if not eliminating the mitigation payments, and allowing Mr. Doe to stretch the payments over 10 years.
The board’s amended proposal calls for the developer to pay $150,000 toward streetscape improvements within the layout of South Street, $150,000 toward the improvement of public water infrastructure in the South Street area, and $30,000 toward pedestrian improvements within the South Street layout.
But the board would not back away from requiring at least some mitigation on the project.
“What we have on the table is a philosophical argument,” board member Felicia R. Penn said.
The board, Ms. Penn said, was proposing dropping the overall mitigation costs from $434,421 to $330,000, effectively cutting those costs by about 25 percent.
She also reminded Mr. Doe that the Greenery regulatory agreement allowed the project to bypass the Cape Cod Commission, which she said would have added hundreds of thousands of dollars in development costs to the project.
And she said that the planning board, in request from Mr. Doe, had moved quickly earlier this year to support a change in use for the first floor of the structure.
That change, allowing for an educational use in a space originally limited to offices and medical use, will allow Mr. Doe to lease space to a culinary school.
The Barnstable Town Council, whose approval is needed to modify regulatory changes, already signed off on the new use.
Board member Patrick M. Princi said the board obviously would have negotiated different mitigation if the project was just coming before the board.
But he said the current proposal seems very fair, given the changes in the economy.Board member Matthew K. Teague said he would have supported further reducing the mitigation, but not eliminating it, which he said he would open the floodgates to developers seeking similar deals.
Raymond B. Lang, chairman of the planning board, said mitigation requirements are something that the board has to consider in both good and bad economic times, given the potential impact of development projects on existing Hyannis neighborhoods and their continuing existence through good and bad economic cycles.
The board subsequently voted 4-1, with Mr. Teague dissenting, to support the modified mitigation proposal.
The amendment to the regulatory agreement now goes forward to the Barnstable Town Council for approval or rejection.
Mr. Lawler declined comment on whether he and Mr. Doe will attempt to refight their mitigation argument at the council.