TRURO — The select board gave final approval on Jan. 22 for the Stone’s Throw Condominiums at 6 Shore Road to become Truro’s first condominium association to convert from seasonal to year-round use.
The approval comes after town meeting voters passed an amendment to the town’s zoning bylaws to relax restrictions on the year-round occupancy of such multi-unit dwellings.
Previously, units that were part of a former cottage or cabin colony, motor court, motel or hotel that had changed to separately owned single- or multi-family dwellings could be occupied only from March through November (with a provision allowing one unit to be occupied by an onsite manager year-round).
Stone’s Throw consists of 28 units built on the site of the former Cape Shores Motel. According to Lisa Baum, a resident of Stone’s Throw and chair of its board of trustees, the association unanimously decided to undertake the application process to attain year-round status in October 2018. It took several months to go through the permitting process, she said.
A former resident of upstate New York, Baum, who began coming to the Cape in 2010, purchased her unit in 2014, and moved here full-time with her wife in 2017. Due to the seasonal restrictions on their property, they, like many others on the Cape, had to secure alternative housing for the winter. They found a place in Provincetown.
This winter, however, the pair was able to stay put. “Everyone’s been very gracious…we didn’t move out December 1st,” she said, “We began our process in advance of the December 1 deadline and she (Town Manager, Rae Ann Palmer) was quite … forward thinking- saying, ‘We’re in the process, we’ve been there. So stay, let us complete the process’.”
“This was huge this year,” Baum added, “to not have to spend our money elsewhere, (and) keep it right here in town.”
Truro currently has 45 condominium associations, comprising approximately 700 units in total that could potentially convert under the amended bylaw. Town officials are quick to point out though that this figure does not represent the number of units that might actually convert, as all might not seek to undergo the process and some may be impeded by the costs associated with the necessary improvements to buildings and infrastructure.
The law allows existing condominiums to be converted to year-round use as long as the units meet zoning, building, health and safety codes. Likewise, it provides for existing cottage or cabin colonies, hotels, motels and motor courts that seek conversion to condominiums to be designated as year-round if the owners agree to do so and can demonstrate compliance with the applicable codes.
When asked to comment on the conversion process, Baum said, “It was very collaborative. We had a very thorough inspection. They [town officials] were very open to us, so I would say quite neighborly.”
As of now, six of the units at Stone’s Throw will be occupied by their owners year-round. Baum said she doubted that all the units will be used year-round, but added that several members of the association have plans to make their places their permanent homes in the coming years. Others, she said, are just glad to be able to come and go now as they please.