BUZZARDS BAY — In an overture to wary Bourne sewer commissioners, the team behind a proposed Buzzards Bay development has offered to build a “brand name” hotel before tackling a $55 million, seven-story mixed-use complex.
Perry Ave. Corp. developers have offered to flip-flop the project’s first two phases in hopes of accommodating the sewer commissioners who have raised concerns about the town’s limited capacity to treat and dispose of wastewater.
Although he was unsure of what wastewater allocation the hotel and conference center would need, Chris Bailey, a senior broker with Commercial Realty Advisors who is consulting on the project, said it would generate less wastewater than the mixed-use complex.
“It seems like that’s probably the best place to be since the numbers are so incredibly tight, and a hotel of a size that is appropriate for Buzzards Bay would not be a huge allocation,” Bailey told the sewer commission, a five-member panel that is technically separate from the Board of Selectmen but includes the same members.
In an interview Wednesday, Bailey declined to identify the brand name hotel chain that he said is interested in building as early as next year.
The developers need the assurance of a wastewater allocation, he said, before they can take on the hefty expense of drawing up detailed construction plans, along with legal fees.
Last month, the developers asked the Sewer Commission to allocate 30,000 gallons of wastewater capacity for what was then the first phase: a C-shaped building with first-floor retail space, 144 residential units and a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Cape Cod Canal. The developers have since learned that the mixed-use complex would require a higher allotment of 46,000 gallons per day.
Once construction begins, the developers said they would want to forge a “public-private partnership” to build a wastewater treatment plant in Buzzards Bay that would pave the way for the project’s final two phases and for future development downtown.
But some sewer commissioners said that the requested allocation would bump up against the limit of the town’s contract with Wareham, which accepts up to 200,000 gallons of wastewater per day from Bourne.
“I think we’re just too close to our capacity,” sewer commission Chairwoman Linda Zuern said Tuesday, reiterating her worry that the hotel allocation might stifle the growth of businesses down Main Street.
The precise number of gallons remaining for Bourne to allocate has been a point of confusion throughout the process. A month ago, town Administrator Thomas Guerino estimated that the town would have between 12,000 and 15,000 gallons left per day if it were to approve the developers’ request for 30,000 gallons per day.
On Tuesday, however, Selectman Stephen Mealy said the town currently has only 24,000 gallons of capacity available.
Mealy, who serves as clerk of the sewer commission, urged his fellow commissioners to grant that remaining capacity to developers then partner with them to build a wastewater treatment system.
“The time has come,” Mealy said, citing the various studies and steps the town has taken in hopes of attracting development.
“The town has prepared itself and stopped short of addressing the issue now at our doorstep, he added.
After a 90-minute discussion that grew testy at times, sewer commissioners voted 4-0 to have Guerino investigate whether Bourne could clear room for the development by lowering the Hideaway Village condominium association’s daily wastewater allocation of 60,000 gallons. In the peak month of July, the condominiums generated an average of 17,000 gallons of wastewater per day, according to town records.
The daily flow of wastewater typically falls well below the full allocation, said Joe Longo, a civil engineer with the Sandwich-based Horsley Witten Group, which is involved with the project.
For Bailey, the unanimous vote was a “very positive step.” Entering the meeting Tuesday, he thought it was possible that the board would decide not to allocate any capacity to the development and effectively extinguish any hope of breaking ground.
“Let me just say I really appreciate the nature of this discussion. It’s getting creative,” Bailey said. “Unfortunately, the situation you all find yourselves in requires some creative thinking.”