Category Archives: Planning Board

Cooperative Living Space

What do these situations have in common?

“Mark Fletcher has a chance encounter with his high school crush Katie Bowman, and he ends up moving in with her into her four bedroom apartment alongside her other roommates Hope and James.”

“the suddenly risen film star Vince Chase, a ‘jeune premier’ of humble origins, learns the ropes of the business and the high-profile world of the wealthy happy few in and around Hollywood, but not alone: he brings from his native New York his atypical ‘entourage (hence the title), not glitterati or professionals but a close circle of friends since childhood”

“Four previously married women live together in Miami, sharing their various experiences together and enjoying themselves despite hard times.”


The answer, under Dennis Zoning their living arrangements would be illegal.  Currently, when 4 or more unrelated individuals live together, they are defined as a commercial use of the property.

Quite simply, the living arrangements found in the old television series “The Golden Girls”, or more recently in “Roommates” and “Entourage”  is not legal in Dennis. Zoning declares that “four or more individuals not related within the second degree of kinship” can only live together in a commercial lodging house. The first degree of kinship is one’s parents or children. The second degree of kinship is one’s siblings. The Golden Girls, as four widowed women living under one roof, would not meet that test in Dennis.

The Collaborative Living Space proposal will allow the opportunity for unrelated individuals to live together for familial purposes (two unmarried individuals with unadopted foster children), camaraderie, and financial purposes.

The proposal seeks to:

  • Find a way to create easily attainable, entry-level housing for our high-school and college graduates to be able to remain on, or return to, Cape Cod;
  • Find ways to allow our seniors (Golden Girls or Golden Guys) to live semi-independently in the community in a supportive environment;
  • Allow for adaptive reuse and reinvestment in some of our larger antique homes scattered around town.

On a national level, collaborative living arrangements are being managed by entities such as “WeLive” or “Common.”

The need for this as part of the housing solution can be found in the May 7th Cape Cod Times article; Youth outreach expanded in annual Cape homeless count, where it noted: “Finding affordable housing on the Cape can pose a particular challenge to young people just starting out in entry-level jobs….”

The target for Collaborative living is the 2,614 single person households (37.7% of all households in Dennis); the 1,491 single person households age 65 and over, perfectly fitting the “Golden Girls” or “Golden Guys” scenario; and the 90 single people are aged 15 to 34 living alone.

The Brookings Institute reports that the 25 to 34 year old portion of this demographic earn an average of $37,974 which means they can only afford to pay $950 per month for rent and utilities.  If Collaborative Living were and option, four people in this group could generate as much as $3,800 in monthly living costs and would create a household with nearly $152,000 in local spending power.


South Yarmouth Road Habitat for Humanity Wall Raising

Some pictures from today’s “Wall Raising” for the Habitat for Humanity home on South Yarmouth Road.

A little background first. The town made this parcel available to Habitat through a request for proposals process. Habitat applied to the Planning Board for a Special Permit under the Affordable Housing portion of the Dennis Zoning By-law. Upon grant of the Special Permit, Habitat also applied for and received, a grant from the Community Preservation Committee to support the construction of the home. Numerous local businesses support Habitat’s home projects as well.

Habitat marketed this, and two additional units to be constructed on Janall Drive and conducted the affordable housing lottery. The new, soon to be, the homeowner was selected from this process. Desiree and her two sons are already well connected to Dennis.

Open Space Plan Discussion

Monday, May 21st as part of its regular meeting, the Planning Board will begin discussing the Dennis Open Space Plan Update. The primary focus of this first session will be the public survey. The survey can be found here:


We will also discuss the balance between competing town needs  as found in these documents:

2016 Draft Open Space and Recreation Plan

2017 Housing Production Plan

Town of Dennis Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan 2016 Draft


Affordable Housing Needs and March 5th Planning Board Hearing

The following is some background information being shared with the Planning Board for the hearings on March 5th.

The Town adopted a plan to meet our affordable housing goals last year. The plan addresses meeting our affordable housing goals.

In addition, the Cape Cod Commission has prepared a report on the region’s shortfall in affordable housing. Dennis has a shortfall in affordable rental housing for the local work force.

Work force housing needs to be reemphasized over and over in the affordable housing discussion. The table above illustrates, in red, all the professions in Barnstable County that has an average pay scale that falls BELOW the $54,400 income level, the level for earning 80% of the county’s median income.

These two graphics show that, if you work on Cape Cod, you probably cannot afford to live here.

Another point, the three fields in yellow above, represent 60% of our labor force. Retail, accommodations and health care. Three areas critical to our tourist economy and our aging population, CANNOT afford to live on Cape Cod.

I will let these last few go with no comment.

October 17th Town Meeting Zoning Amendments

Town Meeting on October 17th will have two zoning amendments up for a vote. One asking whether recreational marijuana should be prohibited in Dennis and the second asking to make changes to the Seasonal Resort Community length of season and off-season recordkeeping requirements.  These two proposals are as follows:

To see if the Town will vote to amend the Town’s Zoning Bylaw by adding a new Section 14, MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENTS, that would provide as follows, and further to amend the Table of Contents to add Section 14, “Marijuana Establishments”: Section 14 Marijuana Establishments.

Consistent with G.L. c.94G, § 3(a)(2), all types of non-medical “marijuana establishments” as defined in G.L. c.94G, §1, including marijuana cultivators, independent testing laboratory, marijuana product manufacturers, marijuana retailers or any other types of licensed marijuana-related businesses, shall be prohibited within the Town of Dennis.

Or take any action relative thereto.

The Planning Board held a public hearing on this amendment on September 18th and voted unanimously to recommend Town Meeting support.

The second zoning amendment is a citizens petition and reads as follows:

To Amend Section 12.6 of the petition and reads as follows: A proposal that Section 12.6 of the Town of Dennis Seasonal Resort Community Bylaw be amended by (italicizing) the language to be stricken below, and inserting the language bolded below.

12.6 Provisions Affection All Seasonal Resort Communities

A. Seasonal Resort Communities may be open between April 1st and (October 31st )
December 31st, inclusive. Seasonal Resort Communities may provide for short term (use) overnight occupancy, up to four days in any thirty day period, during the remainder of the year, provided that there is an occupancy permit which ensures sanitary facilities are provided.

B. Seasonal Resort Community facility office and recordkeeping. All seasonal resort communities (shall) may maintain an office on the premises. (The office shall be occupied at all times the Seasonal Resort Community is open for occupation by residents.) Each Seasonal Resort Community shall maintain a record of unit occupancy between January 1st and March 31st, which shall be available for inspection by the Building Commission upon request.

The Planning Board will hold a Public Hearing on this petition on October 16th and will report to Town Meeting as to their recommendation.