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300+ Hyannis apartments move toward Cape Cod Commission agreement; negotiations to begin

Twin Brooks 7-12-22 revised site plan.JPG
A site plan shows the layout of 312 apartments proposed for the former Twin Brooks golf course in Hyannis.

More than 300 apartments proposed for the former Twin Brooks golf course in Hyannis have reached a turning point in the approval process.

After a series of hearings, the Cape Cod Commission is getting ready to write a development agreement for the complex, known as Emblem Hyannis.

Commission chair Harold Mitchell concluded Tuesday’s subcommittee hearing by saying, “We'll start moving towards a next step of — next level of the hearings, for the agreement.”

But first, developer LMC intends to submit revised plans to codify changes already discussed in the hearings.

Once that happens, Commission staff will review the plans, and the subcommittee will schedule a meeting, Commission spokeswoman Sarah Colvin said.

LMC wants to fill an asphalt-lined detention pond and move some of the buildings northward.

The company has already received approval to fill the pond, but a citizens’ group appealed, according to the company’s attorney, Brian Dugdale. He said the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection subsequently issued an order June 15 that declared the pond is not subject to protection under the Wetlands Protection Act.

LMC is waiting for confirmation from DEP that no further appeals have been filed. Then, the company will submit revised site plans, he said.

“That's something that takes weeks,” he said. In the meantime, the company wants to begin drafting the development agreement with Cape Cod Commission staff — “really ironing out all of the final details.”

The company also hopes to get some informal comments on the revised site plan from the Barnstable Planning Department and others in the Barnstable town government, he said.

The project will be headed to the town for approval once the Commission signs off.

Plans call for 13 apartment buildings, each three stories high. Of 312 units, 41 would be deed-restricted as affordable housing. The property would have nearly 500 parking spaces.

The proposal has garnered intense interest from opponents and supporters.

Opponents want to see part or all of the 40-acre former golf course preserved for open space.

Karen “Kim” McGuire, president of the nonprofit group Save Twin Brooks, said there are better locations for an apartment complex of this size.

“Locating a massive complex in scarce, open public space is not necessary when there are plenty of sites around Hyannis that are on sewer, in community activity centers, or industrial activity centers, or unused shopping center parking lots and closer to supermarkets and shopping,” she said during Tuesday’s hearing.

But supporters say more apartments like these are critical to easing the Cape’s housing crisis — a crisis of both affordability and inventory.

For Esin Sozer of Barnstable, inventory was the biggest issue when her family moved to the Cape recently.

“I'm starting a position as a professor at Northeastern, so this wasn't because we needed low income housing, but because there was nothing available for us or anybody else,” she said.

Employers say the Cape’s lack of housing is the biggest factor in the local labor shortage.

Cate Van Gelder of the Housing Assistance Corporation told the Commission subcommittee that local Facebook groups are flush with people desperate to find housing on Cape Cod — “people whose landlords are selling their properties or converting to summer rentals … asking for any leads, any help at all, so they can remain on the Cape, so their kids can stay in their school, and they can keep their jobs here.”

The Cape Cod Commission has no required timeframe for negotiating a development agreement.

Once an agreement has been drafted, the subcommittee votes to make a recommendation to the full Commission on whether to authorize the signing of the agreement.

Opponents still hope to make their case to the town of Barnstable that at least part of the open space should be set aside for public use.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.