Category Archives: South Dennis

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..

Project:

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.

Dennis Projects Get National Recognition

Last week was a good one for reconfirming that the vision being pursued by a variety of town boards. Two local projects were recognized by the National Association of Homebuilders for their “Best in American Living Awards. The 27 unit MelPet Farm Community Housing project won a Silver Medal in the Best Affordable Multi-Family Development Category.  In November 2016, this project was also awarded a Gold Award winner from the Builders and Remodellers Industry of Cape Cod for Excellence in Affordable Housing.

Heritage Sands was also honored by both of these associations as well. Heritage Sands won the top BALA award “Community of the Year” along with a Platinum Award for Best Single Family Community Under 100 Units and was recognized as the Best Project in the North Atlantic Region by the National Association of Home Builders. Heritage Sands also won a Gold Award from The Builders and Remodellers Industry of Cape Cod for Outstanding and Most Clever Use of Small Space during their November 2016 Award Program.

In receiving these national awards, these two projects illustrate the compassion that the Town of Dennis puts into its zoning and site plan review procedures to ensure that quality projects are being created around the town.

 

Shop Local Saturday November 26th – Or All The Time Really

Saturday is Shop Local Saturday, as part of your holiday shopping, Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, or whenever you are out looking for that perfect item, consider our local merchants  who are supporting our villages before running out to the mall in Hyannis!

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Regulating “Seasonal” Uses

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:

dfortier@town(dot)dennis(dot)ma(dot)us