WELLFLEET – Taking advantage of a “unique opportunity”, the Select Board has agreed to buy Maurice’s campground for $6.5 million, a deal the board says could go a long way to providing affordable housing.
On Friday, the Select Board announced that it had signed a purchase and sale agreement with the owners of the 21.5-acre property. Completing the sale will require voter approval at a special town meeting on September 10. A closing date is scheduled for October 31, pending approval.
Board Chairman Ryan Curley called the potential purchase a “unique opportunity” for the city. Such a sale could be crucial for Wellfleet given the lack of affordable housing and labor, which currently accounts for 2.5% of the city’s housing stock. The state’s goals are for every city and town to have at least 10% of its housing stock deemed affordable.
“Housing is the reason we buy the property,” Curley said.
Wellfleet has the lowest percentage of affordable housing in Cape Town. Seasonal ownership, short-term rentals and soaring prices have decimated the stock of year-round rentals, Curley said.
Elaine McIlroy, vice-chairman of the Housing Trust, said news of the potential deal gave her hope. She has worked on housing issues for 18 years. Census data from 2020 showed 4,600 homes in Wellfleet, 1,500 of which are open year-round, she said. Only 38 of these units are affordable.
“Seventy percent of these units are single-family homes,” McIlroy said. “It will give options and ensure the future of our community.”
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The 95 Lawrence Road project with 46 affordable housing units will go to the Zoning Appeal Board for full permitting in a few months, McIlroy said. But there are still two to four years before they are ready to move in.
If voters approve the deal, a planning committee would hold workshops and public hearings to determine the future use of the plot. Curley said the committee would follow the lead of Eastham’s T-Time committee which held workshops and conducted surveys at T-Time properties, Town Center Plaza and the Council on Aging.
“They’ve done a great job with the audience engagement,” Curley said. “It is a good model to follow. It offers many opportunities for citizen participation throughout the process.”
Camping Maurice has belonged to the Gauthier family since 1949. The site includes 12 chalets, 16 tent sites and more than 180 campsites, some of which are seasonal rentals. The parcel is between Route 6 and the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
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As the city considers a plan for the parcel, the Gauthier family plans to provide an adjustment period for seasonal workers and 140 families who use the park recreationally, according to the Select Board news release.
As a result, the city plans to operate the campground for six years and collect the revenue it generates during the planning and permitting processes.