Planning Board

Economic Development Committee Meeting April 17, 2014

Economic Development Committee Meeting

Thursday April 17, 2014, 9 am

Dennis Town Hall Annex – Conference Room

685 Route 134
South Dennis , MA 02660



  1. Sesuit Harbor Zoning By-law Review (one more review? Semi-final revisions Here)
  2. Route 28 Zoning Map Amendment for land between Holiday Hill and Benny’s Holiday Hill Rezoning
  3. Exit 9 Economic Center Zoning Discussion – Part 1 Understanding what is there


We need to create a contact list specific to Exit 9, please bring suggested key participants ideas so we can add them to the contact list.

Let’s Get The Discusion Started

When the Cape Cod Commission denied the Lowe’s application there were a few comments made related to Dennis Zoning for this area. While they were either completely incorrect (Dennis has zoned this area industrial so they must not want retail here) or inaccurate (Dennis has not adopted any changes to this areas zoning since it was designated an Economic Center), it is time to tackle a long considered overhaul to zoning in the Exit 9 area.

The land use vision is included in the 2002 Local Comprehensive Plan. The Plan calls for the area to become a mixed use center.  Current zoning even gets us part of the way there. If you look closely, we allow retail, professional office, manufacturing and other non-residential uses in this area. Actually, low density residential is allowed, BY-RIGHT, in the General Commercial III Zoning District and higher densities are allowed by Special Permit as well. However, most of the area is zoned at too low a density to create a walkable development area, and setbacks promote separation rather than the integration of uses on adjacent properties.

The general concept would be to promote a mixed use area that targets some percentage of total floor space for residential use, street level pedestrian orientation for some retail, with larger retail uses behind this street facade. Professional office space, research and development, and medical technology should be targeted. I have been looking at the so-called “innovation districts” for some conceptual ideas as well. These districts try to promote areas that provide opportunities for start-up programmers to share resources, two decades ago we referred to them as incubator spaces.

Here is a general timetable:

April 17th EDC Kick-off Meeting, 
April 17 – May 15 Identify key stakeholders 
May 15 EDC Meeting with key stakeholders to discuss concept and needs
May 15 – June 19 Meet weekly to discuss land uses with Stakeholders
June 19 EDC review results of stakeholders discussions
June 19 – July 17 Meet weekly to discuss density criteria, building height, setbacks, parking considerations
July 17 EDC to review progress
July 17 – August 21 Meet weekly to discuss site design, landscaping, internal connections
August 21 EDC to review progress
August 21 – September 18 Meet to formulate development mitigation requirements
September 18 EDC to review progress.
This is a very aggressive schedule. Much of this relies upon buy-in by the landowners on the concepts put forward. Some of it will challenge the traditional patterns that have been established out there of 40,000 sf lots with 9,900 sf steel buildings on them.

With this timetable we would have a build-out for a future land use scenario in the July/August time frame. Town Meeting is being asked to fund a Route 134 traffic study. This schedule will  which provide for a future growth scenario for the traffic study. Two growth scenario’s actually, existing zoning build-out and proposed zoning change build-out would both be able to be considered.

After September 18th we would be taking all the concepts and crafting the by-law. The actual zoning proposal could be ready for Spring Town Meeting in 2015. It is an aggressive schedule. Much of this overlaps with coordinating public review of the Sesuit Harbor Zoning proposal.

The EDC has just about finalized the Sesuit Harbor proposal. There is a need to review this by-law proposal with the Sesuit neighborhood between May and August. This might mean skipping one of these EDC progress report meetings.

We hope to develop a proposal for Cape Cod Commission acceptance. This will allow for the Commission to reduce or eliminate its control over this area.  We will need to establish an infrastructure improvement program for this area. This would include waste-water and traffic mitigation fees, to be used to fund transportation improvements and a centralized waste water system that will be needed for this area. It is possible we may need some form of special taxation district if the fee system is unworkable.

Stay tuned, I will be tossing lots of ideas out through this and the Economic Development blogs.

FEMA Primary Residence Definition for Insurance Rating Status Changing June 1, 2014

Last night I posted, FEMA Primary Residence Definition for Insurance Rating Status May Be Changing. After finding this information I immediately sent out requests to my contacts at the State, FEMA and local insurance companies to try to learn more about it.

The report back is very good news. For premium purposes, Primary Residence status is being shifted from the 80% of the year, 292 day, standard to a more than 50%, 183 day, standard. This will qualify many more home owners for the lower insurance premium rates.

In Dennis Port, only 31% of the housing units are classified as year-round occupied based upon the 2010 Census. In West Dennis the figure was 40% classified year-round. These two villages will benefit the most from this premium change as these vacancies on Census Day (April 1st) are among the homes that are occupied for over 50% of the year, mid-April to Veteran’s day generally.

This change will be coming out to Dennis residents with policy renewals being generated starting in June 2014. Watch for it. You will need to verify that one of the property owners resides on the property for more than 50% of the year. Not providing the requested information will result in a property being classified non-primary.

Arbitrary and Capricious – Defined In Easy Terms

So a new court case crossed my desk today, at least new to me, it is one from Florida that appears to have had many lives. In it the Army Corps of Engineers lost an over $4 million judgement for denying a wetlands fill permit.

At first glance, and why I took the time to read it, one would question how denying a permit that someone is not entitled to by-right could possibly be a taking. The answer is found on Page 3 of the decision:

The Corps acknowledged that if an applicant other than Lost Tree had sought the permit, it would have been granted.

Bottom line, no matter what, all applicants must be treated the same.

Lost Tree Village Corp. v United States

Flood Zone Discussion – Planning Board Hearing Follow-up

Last night’s Planning Board Public Hearing on the flood zone adoption was interesting to say the least.  It illustrated some of the issues we are trying to address and educate Dennis residents about. In particular, the nature of the changes taking place.

There have been some issues regarding the extent of flood zone expansions raised in Plymouth County. We should leave that discussion to those county officials. Here in Dennis, most of the changes simply carry the flood elevations from the 1986 and 1992 maps through to proper ground elevation contours. This is about 90% of the changes taking place. Where we have increases in flood water elevations, it is generally increases of about 1 foot. Most of our velocity zone changes are small changes as well, and many are the result of modelling of erosion potential. To place this in perspective, all one has to do is look at Dr. Bottero Road and Chapin Beach at the erosion that has taken place in recent years, without a 1% storm.

In the Scott Tyler Road neighborhood off of the Weir Creek, we have a good example of how this is affecting properties both positive and negative. First, the flood map for this area:

Scott Tyler OriginalThis map illustrates the existing A zone (Blue) and the A zone as it will exist with the changes to take effect in July (cross hatched). Base Flood Elevation under the new maps is 11 feet above sea level, existing is an A10 with Elevation 12. Comparing the NGVD29 and the NAVD88 information for this area, we come to a conclusion that there is no change in actual water levels in this area, the difference in elevation between the two analyses is simply the difference between old ground elevation and the new ground elevation. The maps in this area matches base flood elevation to accurate measurements of ground elevation based upon the FEMA LIDAR ground elevation measurements.

The map above illustrates ground elevation contours in 2 foot intervals based upon the town of Dennis LIDAR fly-over conducted for our own GIS efforts. If you look closely, for the most part the Base Flood Elevation splits the difference between the 10 foot and 12 foot contours from our fly-over. The map illustrates areas being added to the flood zone based upon matching flood elevation to actual ground measurements (red below).

Scott Tyler Expand


And areas being removed from the flood zone (red) on the map below.

Scott Tyler Reduction


The property in question last night has a reduction in the flooding of the property. However, it looks to still include parts of the structure in the flood zone.

After the meeting we continued the discussion, here are a few things that need to be explored for these property owners:

  1. They have never been required to buy flood insurance. This raises a question as to whether they should be able to acquire a Preferred Risk Policy if they choose to buy flood insurance now. They have been in a flood zone since the 1986 maps came out. Section 3 of HR 3370 suggests that grandfather rates and Preferred Risk Policies be protected for homeowners who did not have flood insurance and were not required to buy flood insurance. These homeowners should pursue this issue with their insurance representatives after HR 3370 is signed into law this week.
  2. The homeowners were advised to get a survey done of their property. Not only will this be needed to know the correct flood risk of the property and thus flood insurance rates, it will also allow the property owner to know what mitigation efforts they might need to undertake.
  3. After completing the survey, the property owner should consider taking steps to mitigate flooding. The backyard of the property is at about elevation 8. The Base Flood Elevation is at 11 feet. The property owner should look into filling the backyard and bringing it up to, or above elevation 11. While it will not support a Letter of Map Amendment, it will allow the property to seek a lower insurance rate due to having taken mitigation efforts. Additionally, they should look into lifting any utilities in their basement to above base flood elevation. depending upon what they find in their survey, this could, possibly, still be accomplished without moving the equipment out of the basement.
  4. Finally, they should take the necessary steps to make their basement flood resilient. In doing this, there is a special provision in HR 3370 dealing with reductions in rates for flood resilient basements.


Sesuit Harbor Zoning Efforts Update

We have made a lot of progress towards crafting a new zoning district encompassing the working waterfront properties on Sesuit Harbor over the past several months. To the extent that, after yesterday’s session we actually have the complete draft of a harbor zoning proposal for Sesuit Harbor. Going forward from here we still have a lot of work to do, but it is clearly manageable. Here are the next steps and tentative meetings:

February 20th at 9 am, Discussion with the Town Planner – Review the Complete Draft one more time and make revisions as necessary

February 27th at 9 am, Economic Development Committee at the Town Hall Annex, EDC will receive the draft and initiate its review. Any members of other committees are encouraged to attend if they are available

March 20th at 9 am, Economic Development Committee at Town Hall Annex, continued review of the Sesuit Harbor Zoning Draft

April 17th at 9 am, Economic Development Committee at Town Hall Annex, continued review of the Sesuit Harbor Zoning Draft if necessary

May 19th – tentative joint Meeting of the Planning Board and Zoning By-law Study Committee to review Sesuit Harbor Zoning Draft (note any comments from Planning Board and Zoning By-law Study Committee members during the EDC review would be greatly appreciated to streamline this effort)

June, July and August public discussions to explain the Sesuit Harbor Zoning proposal and receive feedback (EDC Meetings and elsewhere as needed. Yacht Club forum perhaps?).

September 8th (approximately)Planning Board asked to forward to Selectmen for Fall Town Meeting Warrant

October 6th or 20th Planning Board Public Hearing prior to Fall Town Meeting.

Thanks to all who have participated to date, and I look forward to continuing this effort in the coming months. While you  do not see many of those “Discussions with the Town Planner” on the schedule. I expect there will be a few. I might also explore an electronic forum in the next couple of weeks if I can find an appropriate platform.

I am encouraging all relevant board and committee members to try to participate throughout the remainder of these meetings, when possible, so we can have a full a discussion as possible.

Below are links to the draft zoning proposal and map.

Draft Sesuit Harbor Zoning Amendments

Draft Sesuit Harbor Zoning Map