Since 1973 Dennis has regulated cottage colonies as “seasonal” uses with no real attempt to define what is the “season” and what level of access might be available in the off-season. Across much of town cottage colonies have condominiumized and have created their own concept of “season,” some even creating condominium documents that almost read like year round properties. A few others recognizing a “season” but granting nearly unfettered “off-season” access.
When we crafted the Seasonal Resort Community Zoning District we tried, for the first time, to define “season” and regulate “off-season.” The Economic Development Committee looked at how the properties were accessed prior to the zoning being crafted, predominantly on weekends, and proposed an allowance that would have provided for this to continue. The EDC proposed access of up to 10 days in any 30 day period, which would have allowed for continuing the past practice. At the final Zoning By-law Committee review of this proposal, it was cut to 4 days in any 30. The Economic Development Committee went along with the change with the idea it could be revisited in the future.
We are at that point of reconsideration. There are many options:
- Keeping it as it is, 4 days in any 30, with no changes;
- Keeping it as it is but requiring a register be kept in the office for enforcement;
- Reverting to the original 10 days in any 30, but add the register requirement;
- Stating specific windows of access, Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Year, and February school vacation; or perhaps,
- Weekends and holidays which could capture a number of three day weekends.
The Planning Board wants to look at this on a town-wide basis and come up with a set of standards that applies everywhere. They have formed a working group that consists of two Planning Board members (Peggy Fantozzi and Brad Bishop), one Economic Development Committee member, one member of the Dennis Port Revitalixation Committee, one person from a cottage community inside the Seasonal Resort District, one person from a cottage colony outside the SRC district, and one interested resident “at-large.”
This working group will study the issue, hold public meetings, and make a recommendation to the Planning Board.
If you are interested, please email me at: