WEST DENNIS – Dennis officials are investigating whether the use of a house by Cape Wind’s lead contractor violates town zoning or health bylaws.
A complaint filed by a neighbor Aug. 29 claims a house at 17 Wendy Way is being used by Fugro Atlantic as a commercial property while its staff maps areas of Nantucket Sound where Cape Wind plans to build 130 wind turbines.
Fugro Atlantic is performing a geological survey to give Cape Wind more information about the seafloor and subsurface. The work is expected to continue through September or October.
The 3,272-square-foot house sits on one of a series of fingers of land that stretch south toward the backside of West Dennis Beach, allowing quick access by boat to Bass River and Nantucket Sound. The property was last assessed at $1.228 million in 2010, according to online assessor’s records.
“The property is now being used as an office, supply center, transit point and boarding house for employees and contractors for Fugro Atlantic based out of Norfolk, Va.,” according to the complaint filed with the town by Woody Tanger, whose family owns the home next door.
The complaint was not filed because of any particular view for or against Cape Wind, Tanger said Wednesday, adding that he considers himself generally in favor of the project.
“We’ve owned this property for over 30 years at the end of Wendy Way, and we are very worried about the value of our property and what this is doing to change a strictly residential waterfront neighborhood,” he said.
An online rental advertisement for 17 Wendy Way lists it as a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home that sleeps eight people.
Fugro has kept a 34-foot boat named the Taku at a dock on the property and has employees living at the house, according to a Fugro official who says the property is only being used to house employees during the survey work.
“We’re compliant,” Fugro vice president Thomas McNeilan said Wednesday.
Dennis health director Terence Hayes and building commissioner Brian Florence said they were investigating the use of the property but that no violations have been issued.
“It’s still under investigation,” Hayes said. “We’re trying to determine who’s living there and what’s going on there.”
Hayes sent a letter Aug. 30 to the property owner – Seventeen Wendy Way Realty Trust located at 27 Nantucket St. in Hyannis – stating that the property must be registered with the health department to be rented.
“To obtain a certificate, you must fill out and submit the application enclosed along with a $40 fee for each rental unit within seven days of receipt of this letter,” he wrote. “If you are NOT offering the property for rent, please contact our office so that we may adjust our records.”
There had been no response to Hayes’ letter as of Wednesday, according to a member of his staff.
McNeilan said his company was very clear about the purposes for the rental. He also said the building commissioner visited the property recently and asked for a letter indicating the property was being rented.
“My impression is that that was satisfactory,” McNeilan said. “We’re trying to be good neighbors.”
The property is not being used as an office, only for housing, he said.
There is not enough information yet to determine if a zoning violation exists, Florence wrote in an email to the Times.
The area is zoned as low-density residential, according to the town’s zoning map.
The allowed uses do not include lodging houses, security apartments incidental to a commercial or industrial use, or any commercial uses, including as a professional or business office.
However, a zoning use chart on the town’s website says a “research lab, accessory uses for scientific research or development or related production” might be allowed with a special permit issued by the board of selectmen. The property could also be used as a temporary construction office but not as storage for certain commercially registered vehicles or trailers, according to the chart.
A woman who answered the number on the rental advertisement for the property said she did not know the property was being rented and thought the owner had said his partner was using it.
She said she would pass a reporter’s contact information on to the owner, but nobody had responded by deadline on Wednesday.
Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said the wind developer was not involved in securing the rental property for Fugro.
The 27 Nantucket St. address is property owned by Hyannis Harbor Tours Inc., which operates Hy-Line Cruises, a company that is partnering with Cape Wind on a future ecotour to the wind farm.
Martin Reilly, spokesman for Hy-Line, said the 17 Wendy Way property is owned by a friend of his from Ireland whom he helps out. “I’m sure he’ll do whatever he is supposed to,” Reilly said.
Fugro is renting another house in the area for the same purposes, Reilly and Tanger said.
The geotechnical survey is among the most visible work to be done so far on the offshore wind farm.
Cape Wind has secured all of the major permits required to proceed to construction and has sold about three-quarters of the power that will be generated by the wind farm’s turbines. The project still faces several lawsuits, however, and Cape Wind has yet to announce how it will be financed.
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