Author Archives: Daniel Fortier

DOG PARK CLEAN UP DAY

 **VOLUNTEERS NEEDED**

DOG PARK CLEAN UP DAY

for the Summer Season

SATURDAY, MAY 30TH

8-noon (Rain date Sunday May 31th)

If interested in helping call the ACO office at

774-352-1400

 

Exit 9 Economic Development Center Framework

Thinking out loud. The Economic Development Committee has spent some time trying to decipher a future for the Exit 9 area. We have a concept, we need to convert that to a formal plan.

The concept calls higher densities; required mixture of uses; and a public private partnership for the provision of new infrastructure.

We are thinking of a “Planned Unit Development” (PUD) approach where larger tracts of land can be looked at in a big picture way. Ultimately permitting multi-year, multi-phased projects. Such an approach provides the capability for private interests to take on larger scale infrastructure upgrades at their expense as they will have upfront expectations of future build-out.

The vision includes Route 134 as an upgraded central boulevard. Sidewalks, bicycle facilities, and street edge amenities  would be added along with improvements at the two key intersections. Theophilus Smith Road would need similar upgrades with two major intersections,  one at Gages Way and a second at a new intersection at a new Boulevard that would connect the Patriots Square/ Market Place intersection to Theophilus Smith Road. Gages Way and its intersection with Great Western Road would need similar improvements.

The land uses would fall into three categories: retail oriented uses; office/services including hotels and restaurants; and residential uses. All PUD projects would be required to have a minimum percentage of its floor space from each category. Roughly thinking, 20% minimum retail; 20% minimum from the office/services category; ans 35% minimum from the residential category. As we would look to acquiring some state support for improvements in this area, we would be trying to make this a Chapter 40R eligible zoning district.  This would create a need to have 20% of the residential units created be deed restricted affordable. 

Chapter 40R designation would require that the development in the district only be subjected to Site Plan and Design Review approval.  Use of Special Permit approval to implement the goals of the district is not allowed if we seek to leverage the infrastructure funds available under Chapter 40R.

Now to the nitty gritty details, we are considering a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 2, which means 2 square feet of building floor space for ever square foot of land area. We are also thinking of a maximum building height of 4 stories.  Building and site design would require scaling such that buildings closest to Route 134 and the South Dennis Historic District would be held to today’s 2 1/2 story, 35 foot height limit.

The first line of buildings would be pulled forward to a “build to” setback much like we have in Dennis Port and West Dennis,  probably 25 feet off of the street line (existing and proposed streets). Front yards would provide pedestrian facilities and amenities. Outdoor cafés would be considered acceptable for a portion of this area. Push cart access to the area might be a consideration as well.  We would want to establish some degree of pedestrian friendly uses at street level.

The challenge is converting these thoughts into a zoning by-law.

Flood zone vacation homes hit with $250 surcharge – Business – The Boston Globe

Continuing coverage of flood insurance issues. Pointed this surcharge out several times in the past several months.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/05/19/flood-zone-vacation-homes-hit-with-surcharge/ccEKdmTXh7snC0SV0p62KJ/story.html?event=event25

Federal storm policies put Florida in danger | Tampa Bay Times

A good read, also another chance to remind homeowners in the flood zone we are still trying to drum up interest in pursuing federal funding to elevate homes.

 

Federal storm policies put Florida in danger | Tampa Bay Times.

A Zoning Thought Regarding Lifting Homes In The Flood Zone

Our neighbors to the far south (New Jersey) are providing me with many lessons regarding things we can do to better prepare for potential storm related flooding. The nightmares associated with rebuilding are hindering recovery. One issue that delays recovery is having to submit plans to various boards for approval before they can start work, work to simply elevate existing structures.

As I have watched these discussions,  I have give our process considerable thought. We too may have too much red tape. A house in West Dennis or Dennis Port could be forced to undergo Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission and possibly Board of Health Review before they can lift an existing structure.  In South Dennis and on the North side, you might add historic district review into the mix.

We need to cut the red tape, and take preemptive action, before a disaster strikes. Looking at a New Jersey law we might be able to craft a Zoning provision to at least remove one delay.

A first draft of such a provision might look like the following:

Amend Section 6 Flood Zone

Amend Section 6.6 Definitions by adding the following:

“Existing structure” means any structure that presently exists at the time a request is made to elevate.

“Highest applicable flood elevation standard” means the FEMA base flood elevation plus an additional three feet.

“New and appropriate elevation” means any elevation to which a structure is raised, or is to be raised, that is equal to or higher than the applicable FEMA base flood elevation, provided, however, in no case shall the new and appropriate elevation exceed the highest applicable flood elevation standard.

“Original dimensions” means the exact vertical and horizontal dimensions of a structure as it presently exists.

Add new Section 6.7 Special Provisions for Lifting Existing Structures to New And Appropriate Elevations

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, except as otherwise provided pursuant to paragraph (3) of this subsection, a person shall be allowed to lift an existing structure located in an Area of Special Flood Hazard to a new and appropriate elevation, or constructing a staircase or other attendant structure necessitated by such raising without the need for Board of Appeals relief, provided, however, this exemption shall apply only to the minimum extent or degree necessary to allow the structure to meet the new and appropriate elevation with adequate means of ingress and egress.

(2) Appurtenant to lifting an existing structure, the existing structure may be relocated elsewhere on the lot as long as said relocation does not create a new, or increase the intensity of a setback nonconformity.  For the purposes of accomplishing meeting the new and appropriate elevation, the restrictions found in Section 2.4.1.2 D 2 (the so-called 40% rule) shall not apply.

(3) The exemption established pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall not be available to a person who has altered or is seeking to alter the original dimensions of a structure if, had the alteration not been made, the structure could have been raised to meet the new and appropriate elevation either without the exemption or with an  exemption of lesser degree than is needed with the alteration.

What if there were a step between renting and owning? | Urban Institute

Shared equity as a means of helping first time homebuyers. From the discussion, it appears to target the income group that is overlooked, those earning over the normal 80% of median income that is the upper limit of most affordable housing programs.  Recently I raised the question “should we be targeting a portion of our restricted housing?” This continues that discussion.

http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/what-if-there-were-step-between-renting-and-owning

Flood Insurance Advocate

I am going to plant a seed and see where it will go. Possibly nowhere,  as I feel very few towns are as deeply into assisting local property owners with flood insurance issues as we are in Dennis. But, we need a flood insurance advocate on Cape Cod.

It is not a large enough issue that each community needs one, but, clearly it is needed.

Over the last month I have assisted one resident deal with an old Letter Of Map Amendment that was superceded by the new maps and another who was directed that they needed a LOMA. In both cases the July 2014 map changes reflected that the properties were no longer in a flood zone. In both cases the off-Cape insurance company assessed the property owner with flood zone insurance rates.

Neither property had a mortgage.  The property owners could have walked away and dropped their insurance. Luckily neither did as this would just have kicked the can down the road a bit farther. The problem would have raised its ugly head again at a less opportune time, when a sale was pending.

I do not like doing it but, I had to call upon our State Representative,  Congressman and the regional National Flood Insurance representatives to help these property owners. I am sure there are many more in need of help,  who have not stepped forward.

Everyone getting their flood insurance renewals need to double check the determination that has been made. To whit:

• Is the flood zone determination correct? And
• Have they correctly determined whether you qualify for primary residence status?

We clearly need someone in the county to hold people’s hands through this process.