Community Compact Highlights Smart Growth and Affordable Housing Efforts in Dennis

What: Dennis Community Compact Signing

Where: Dennis Town Hall, Route 134 and Bob Crowell Road in South Dennis

When: Tuesday, July 25th at 5pm

Who: Lt. Governor Polito, local delegation, members of the press etc..


Dennis has been a leader on Cape Cod with mixed use development planning. We have been recognized for our work in Dennis Port in 2004 with both the Governor’s Smart Growth Leadership Award and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) Comprehensive Planning Award and in West Dennis in 2007 by the Massachusetts Chapter of the APA Comprehensive Planning Award. We are now working on a Mixed Use project in the Exit 9 area that will look to creating a future economic center that will combine high density housing with new economic opportunities that recognize the changing world economy. This planning district is being developed in cooperation with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Cape Cod Commission.

Why did you choose this best practice and what assistance would you need to accomplish this best practice?

* The town chose Mixed Use Development as its best practice area to focus on as it meets the needs for promoting concentrated development where housing and employment can work together. The mixed use development approach allows for coordination of infrastructure that serves all community needs in one area. By concentrating development under the auspices of MGL Chapter 40R we will be able to focus transportation, waste water, recreation and other municipal infrastructure expenditures in a manner that serves the greatest need for the funds expended. We need the state’s assistance with this to be able to best provide for infrastructure investment. For instance, in Dennis Port Village Center, while great strides have been made to improve the economic condition in this village over the past 13 years, waste water has become the key issue that is keeping the village from meeting all of its potential. This is the same with the West Dennis Village Center and is expected to be an issue for the Exit 9 area on a much grander scale. In the Exit 9 Smart Growth Overlay District, we are working with state personnel to create a balanced zoning approach that will allow the Chapter 40R and S reimbursements to provide the seed money for meeting the startup infrastructure costs. These funds will be combined with some form of special taxation district to generate additional infrastructure funding. The special taxation district has been discussed with a portion of the key landowners and the Cape Cod Commission. Town Staff has also discussed modifying the Dennis Port and West Dennis Village Districts to make them compatible with Chapter 40R requirements with the state. These changes may also be forthcoming. We will need the state to accept these districts into the Chapter 40R program to provide the town with seed money for waste water infrastructure in particular.

Why did you choose this best practice and what assistance would you need to accomplish this best practice?

* Dennis has been a leader in creating affordable housing. We adopted an affordable housing zoning by-law in 2001 and have had numerous applications approved under this by-law since then. In 2004 and 2007 we enhanced our affordable housing zoning by making multi-family housing available in the Dennis Port Village Center (2004) and West Dennis Village Center (2007) with 25% affordability requirements. In addition, the town has developed community housing at Melpet Farms, has converted a number of commercial properties into multi-family housing with affordability requirements and has worked on modifications to accessory housing possibilities. The town has several larger projects on the drawing board that will raise concerns due to regional permitting requirements. These regional permitting requirements will trigger the need for the town to permit projects that are acceptable under local zoning by the means of Chapter 40B. These projects include a possible Chapter 40R redevelopment of an older industrial site adjacent to the Dennis Port Village Center, a village oriented project in the heart of Dennis Port Village Center, the redevelopment of the former Columns Restaurant site and a village oriented housing project on Route 6A in Dennis Village. Each of these projects will meet the requirements of the applicable Dennis Affordable Housing Zoning, but will require Chapter 40B status due to regional regulatory restrictions.

Community Compact recognition for these efforts will allow the town to continue to work with the Cape Cod Commission on finding mechanisms to exempt affordable housing from regional review while maintaining local permitting controls. Community Compact recognition will also allow the town to work with state agencies to access infrastructure funds to support these projects and access waste water funding.

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