Controversial Old Stage Coach Road development again before Planning Board

Sep 11, 2019

Nazih Elkalassi, the chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, appeared before the Planning Board in his capacity as a developer and the owner of Cedar Village, Inc. as his lawyer argued for the approval of the subdivision of a lot on Old Stage Coach Road. 

The lot is one of two on the road that Cedar Village owns. Each was initially the site of some unusual duplexes, which more closely resembled two single family homes to be connected with breezeways approximately 100 and 300 feet in length, respectively. 

In June, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved the company’s request to separate the homes into four single family homes across the two lots, despite questions about the original permitting for the project.

On Monday, September 9, Cedar Village was requesting to separate only one of the lots into two --  the other lot is currently involved in litigation, as Cedar Village is suing the Planning Board over a previous denial.

Elkalassi explained that he wants to divide the lots to facilitate the sale of the homes, along with the land they are built on.

The company’s lawyer, Sheila Tierney, brought a court reporter to the meeting and presented a rapid-fire argument, citing various case law and a recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
Tierney argued that the project should be one in which approval is not required because the road predates Wareham’s subdivision laws. Therefore, she argued, the project did not need to meet the requirements of the subdivision laws, and the board could only decide to deny the request if the members of the board felt that the quality of the road was insufficient to allow access by residents and emergency services.

The last time the project was before the Planning Board, members denied the request because the road was insufficient. At the time, it was a narrow dirt road. 

Since then, Elkalassi obtained an easement from a neighbor that allowed the company to remove about six trees and pave, grade, and widen the road. Additionally, an S-curve in the road was straightened.

Because the argument presented by Tierney was complex and seemed to require legal knowledge to understand, the board decided to continue the hearing until September 23. In the meantime, members will attempt to verify whether the improved road is, in fact, sufficient for emergency vehicles, and obtain the advice of Town Counsel.