A planning board hearing next week will address plans to move two homes on Chappaquiddick.
Plans have been filed with the board to relocate Richard and Jennifer Schifter’s home at Wasque Point, which is threatened by rapid erosion. When the house construction was completed in 2007, it was 220 feet away from the bluff; today the eroding bank is about 50 feet away from a stone pool enclosure next to the house.
On Tuesday, the Edgartown planning board will look at three separate applications for the project. Sourati Engineering Group LLC, on behalf of the Schifters, filed for a special permit to move the 5,500-square-foot house, a 1,150-square-foot guest house, and a 1,140-square-foot three-car garage, as well as to remove an existing sewage disposal system, underground utilities, a pool and the foundations of the guest house and the garage, and to reconstruct the swimming pool and infrastructure including a sewage disposal system.
The Feb. 7 application for the special permit also asks to allow the modification of the 26-foot height restriction. The house exceeds that restriction by three and a half feet.
The property is in the Cape Pogue and Coastal districts of critical planning concern (DCPCs). An application to move the house has not yet been filed with the town conservation commission, which will also have to approve the plan.
To facilitate the house move, the Schifters bought a neighboring home and land. A second application was filed to move the 2,400-square-foot house on that property to make room for the Schifters’ main house, as well as to remove and relocate utilities.
A form A application was filed to adjust the lot lines for the two properties.
A proposed schedule filed with the planning board estimates permitting to be completed by April, with house movers mobilized to the site by then. The removal of landscape items, septic systems and the underground pool was estimated to be done in the beginning of that month, and the excavation, new foundations, building move and backfill, and the installation of a new pool, septic systems and underground utilities was slated to be done by mid-September. The last phase, reestablishing all landscape, was slated to be done by mid-October.
The applicant also submitted a habitat assessment completed by Mark J. Mello of the Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies. The assessment said that while seven species with priority habitat were recognized on the site, the 2.28 acres that would be disturbed are not likely to support any of the species.
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has also indicated concern for archeological or cultural artifacts at the site.
In a Feb. 12 letter to the conservation commission, tribal historic preservation officer Bettina M. Washington wrote that the tribe has been following the Schifter story, and noted that the tribe has been involved in other projects on Chappaquiddick because of archeological and cultural resources there.
“In this particular instance, we are asking that the area(s) that will be disturbed by the relocation of the house have the topsoil layer removed so the tribe can review the exposed landscape and detect any probable archeological or cultural resources,” Ms. Washington wrote. “We also request that a tribal cultural monitor be on site during an excavation to monitor for a chance find of archeological or cultural resources.”
The planning board hearing is only the most recent step in the plans to save the Schifter residence. Last fall, the conservation commission approved an emergency system to stem erosion on the bank, and coconut fiber envelopes filled with sand are stacked on the bluff to try to staunch the erosion. The conservation commission has recently grappled with whether to allow these measures to continue after the house is moved; a discussion about that matter is planned for a future meeting.