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Dome’s future complicates housing plan on Cape Cod

New Developments Cape Cod

FALMOUTH — A local developer planning a 43-unit senior living complex overlooking Little Harbor will start working his way through the town’s permit process in January, and debate promises to be lively.

An important part of permitting will be consideration of plans for rehabilitating and preserving an iconic geodesic dome located on-site, which was built in 1953 under the direction of architect R. Buckminster Fuller, a prominent 20th-century inventor, mathematician, architect, engineer, and general visionary.

The leader of a nonprofit group that was unsuccessful in its attempts to secure control of the restoration, preservation, and future use of the dome said she plans to be vocal about her opposition to the developer’s proposal during coming hearings.

Mark Bogosian, owner of Longfellow Design Build, bought the long-shuttered Nautilus Motor Inn at 533 Woods Hole Road for $2.9 million in 2016 from another developer who had planned a similar senior housing project but never built it.

In the past two years, Bogosian, operating as Woods Hole Partners, has met the nonprofit group called The Dome at Woods Hole, led by Nicole Goldman, in an effort to see whether the organization could secure a long-term lease to refurbish the dome and use it for artistic endeavors.

The two sides failed to reach an agreement, and Bogosian said last week that he hired his own experts, who studied the dome’s structure, worked with the state Historical Commission, and put together a plan to refurbish and preserve it.

‘‘The dome will be restored for use as an airy, open art studio space, with excellent natural and artificial lighting,’’ Bogosian wrote in his special permit application to the Zoning Board. ‘‘Around the dome, there will be publicly accessible gardens and walkways overlooking Little Harbor with spaces for outdoor art installations.’’

Goldman says Bogosian ‘‘cherry-picked’’ pieces of the proposal her group had worked up, ‘‘and then boxed us out, wasting two years of our time.’’

‘‘I feel like they never intended to give us control over it,’’ she said.

But Bogosian said the two sides simply could not come to a workable agreement.

In August, Bogosian was successful in getting approval from the Cape Cod Commission, which weighs in on large projects.

Woods Hole Partners is preparing for the Zoning Board hearing on Jan. 17 and the Planning Board’s site plan review tentatively set for Jan. 22.

Because much of the property, including the dome, lies in the Woods Hole Historic District, the Historical Commission will have considerable authority over what is approved.

The plan calls for 43 housing units. Of those, 39 will be market-rate condominiums, housed in five buildings of various sizes, and four affordable rental units housed in two duplexes.

‘‘We will have design review over the whole development on the property,’’ Edward Haddad, Historical Commission chairman, said. ‘‘Part of our review will be how they are going to restore the dome. The visual will be important; the town houses can’t crowd the dome.’’

Haddad said the previous developer, whose project never came to fruition, had provided a detailed plan for restoration of the dome. ‘‘I would expect to see something very similar this time,’’ he said.

Bogosian expressed confidence in the building design and layout.

‘‘Everything we’re doing will be designed to meet Historic District standards,’’ he said. ‘‘I couldn’t be more excited about this project, and we’ve got a great use for the dome.’’

Under a covenant made with the Woods Hole Community Association, Bogosian will limit lot coverage to 40 percent rather than the town’s allowed limit of 60.

Catherine Bumpus, co-president of the association, said the covenant ‘‘is not support for the project or imply support for the project.’’

‘‘The association would add we expect the developer will ensure that the dome will be preserved and provide a community benefit as outlined in the covenant,’’ Bumpus said.

Goldman is vice chairwoman of the Historical Commission and does not plan to recuse herself when the proposal comes up for review.

‘‘I don’t have a financial interest in the dome,’’ Goldman said. ‘‘I’m a volunteer. I don’t have to recuse myself just because I’m passionate about historic preservation.’’

(Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, www.capecodtimes.com)

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