Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Tighter Building Limits in Orleans Raise Alarm on Property Values

By David Newell, REALTOR
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The following story from today's Cape Cod Times details Orleans Wastewater Management Committee recommendations to the Orleans Board of Health. One key bit of information is found in the next-to-last paragraph of the story where it is stated: "Property owners could ask local health officials to review and certify building plans". This statement means that property owners who wish to build a home under these new guidelines with more bedrooms than the square footage of their lot would allow (10,000 square feet of lot per bedroom built) would need to have those building plans approved prior to May 1, 2008.

The Cape Cod Times
By Staff Writer
Susan Milton
January 09, 2008
ORLEANS — New limits on septic disposal in town have some residents worried about the value of their existing homes and vacant lots.
"I feel you are devaluing our property," Bruce Ayer, owner of a 20,000-square-foot lot on which he could build a three-bedroom house now, said during one of two public hearings Monday.
Under the new rules proposed by town health officials, Ayer would be limited to building a home with two bedrooms, one per 10,000 square feet of land.
"Will the town compensate us for the value we are losing?" said Susan Sargent of Crystal Lake Drive, who has a half-acre lot that she wants to keep as open space or, if needed, to sell in her old age.
Ayer and Sargent were among 40 people who attended the public hearings Monday about the new building limits, which will take effect no earlier than May 1, according to the town board of health.
The goal of the rules is to slow the rate of groundwater pollution from septic systems, according to health board chairman Jan Schneider.
Property values are important but pale in significance to protecting public health in general and groundwater in particular, health board member Sims McGrath said.
"Think of the ramifications if we did nothing," he said.
Local health officials said they plan to review public comments on the construction rule change and consider revising the policy.
The new rules would apply to additions and new construction but not in the village center, general business or industrial zones.
Existing homes could keep their current number of bedrooms. Property owners could ask local health officials to review and certify building plans.
"Then you'll always be able to have a house with that many bedrooms on that lot," health board member Gussie McKusick said.

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