One of the region’s largest suppliers of oyster and quahog seed is working on a deal with the state and the town of Dennis to turn most of its property into conservation land, while continuing its farming operation.
If all goes according to plan, the Aquacultural Research Corporation of Dennis (ARC) will tear down its current building, which has never been updated, and build a state of the art green facility.
According to Dennis Town Administrator Rick White, this will render moot the issue of the wind turbine ARC proposed which led to a court fight that remains unresolved.
The town of Dennis, Sen. Dan Wolf’s office and a group of investors are working on a deal that would deed 30 of ARC’s 39 acres to the town, which would be preserved as conservation land. ARC would continue it operation on the nine remaining acres.
Whether or not current owners Richard Kraus, Gail Hart and Susan Machie will stay on board remains to be seen. Machie referred all inquiries to Hart and Kraus, who were not available for comment.
“The partners at ARC have done a tremendous job, but they’re at the point where they’re considering a transition,” said legislative aide to Wolf, Seth Rolbeein.
State funding is in the pipeline, and the Board of Selectmen has authorized White to sign for a $1.5 million state grant, and Wolf has been working to secure further funding.
“A lot more work has to be done because the value of the operation there is far greater than the grant,” said White, noting that the total cost of the acquisition is expected to be approximately $3 million.
“Sen. Wolf championed some legislation that created a $500,000 appropriation to do some preliminary work for defining the property, transferring the property and facilitating the sale, and $1.5 million in the environmental bond bill,” White explained.
Former Gov. Deval Patrick cut that $500,000 to $100,000, help close a $329 million deficit.
Rolbein said that the group is hoping to fill the financial gap with a combination of private donations, Community Preservation Act money and money from Barnstable County.
ARC has provided the region with shellfish spat – or seed – and has been farming on the property adjacent to Chapin Beach for decades.
“They are a very important seed propagator for shellfish, not just for the Cape, but for the region,” said Rolbein. “They’re a valuable resource for our local economy.”
In 2010 the cost of electricity at the facility was getting too high to manage, so the owners went to the Dennis Old Kings Highway Regional Historic District Committee and asked for permission to build a wind turbine, which they were granted, but the decision was appealed to the regional OKH committee.
“They haven’t invested any money in the facility, and one way that they were looking to maintain a presence and an operation out there, and maintain it and still do it effectively, was to reduce their energy costs,” said White. “Their proposal was to take advantage of some state and federal grants and erect a turbine.”
However, the regional OKH committee overruled that decision, which had been appealed by a person who claimed to be a “visual abutter” because she’d be able to see the turbine from her home. The case has been tangled up in court ever since.
“Someone in Provincetown could say they can see that, so from a management and regulatory process, how do you determine who’s in and who’s out,” White said.
“It’s been through a number of courts, and so far ARC has prevailed and so has the town,” White said.
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