Tag Archives: Cottage Colonies

Some Interesting History on Camper’s Haven

Don Robitaille passed these on to me over the weekend. Camper’s Haven apparently originally consisted of two locations. The site of today’s Camper’s Haven and the site of the existing Haigis Beach, known also as Pettingill’s Trailer Park at the time of the town’s acquisition of the site.

The cost of Beach Front Property in 1962? all of $35,000.

Campers Haven 2 Campers Haven 1


Heritage Sands – A Work in Progress

Sometimes we work real hard on a project, never get the chance to see it through to the end. Dennisport Village Center is progressing with many more new additions coming this Spring and Summer. We have much happening in other parts of Dennis right now and I really need to go take a few pictures of all that is going on.  Progress is being made at the Cumberland Farms and former Christine’s property towards redeveloping these sites, but I have not gotten out to take any pictures.  For now, the work at Heritage Sands will have to do.

Heritage Sands as it was:



Heritage Sands as it is now:


Courtesy of Heritage Sands


Heritage Sands as it will be:



Work Set To Begin At Heritage Sands

After the conclusion of last Thursday night’s Selectmen’s Meeting everything was in place for Cape Cod’s first new cottage colony in half a century [link]. On Friday morning the realtor for the project announced they were ready to start accepting reservations for purchasing cottages. Contracts for construction will be available soon thereafter.


Of even greater significance, permits have been issued by the Dennis Building Department to begin demolition and site preparation. Soon Dennisport will be the beneficiary of its largest new venture since, well since Summit Partners bought into its future in the downtown.

The village has come a long way in the 13 years I have now been here. Going out of business signs have been replaced with a Main Street full of hope. That hope is now expanding to the rest of the village.

Heritage Sands

Here are some of the site improvement benefits I listed last night at the Board of Selectmen’s Meeting:

*  Removal of structures from the Velocity Zones located on the property;

*  All structures on the property constructed to flood zone standards;

*  Removal of cesspools from the coastal dunes;

*  Removal of structures/RV’s from the coastal dunes;

*  Improved setbacks from property boundaries and coastal dunes;

*  Removal of structures/RV’s which encroach in a deeded right-of-way;

*  State of the art waste water treatment including nitrogen removal;

*  Reductions in overall traffic generation from the property;

*  Lot coverage reduced;

*  Storm water controlled on-site; and

*  Building Heights of 25 feet where pre-rezoning 35 feet was allowed.

All of these match up to one or more of the policy objectives found in the Regional Policy Plan. For instance, the building height ties to the objective of not promoting mansionization and pursuing Cape Cod vernacular in building design.

Heritage Sands Responses To Comments

The following highlight comments that have been fielded to date, and responses to those comments. Comments have been received in the Planning Board Public Hearing, through the Planning Blog, and other communications. These comments have been responded to on previous occasions, during the Planning Board Hearing, private meetings and on the blog, those responses are repeated here and expanded upon where appropriate.

Lack of public review of project

* This proposal has been presented to the Dennis Economic Development Committee on several occasions and to the Dennis Planning Board three times (first during the original zoning proposal hearing, second during the petitioned attempt to modify the Seasonal Resort Community zoning and finally at the November 5th Planning Board Public Meeting). The Planning Board Public Meeting was noticed in the newspaper and mailed to abutters within 300 feet as would occur with required public hearings. The public was allowed to ask questions and comment at the November 5th Planning Board Meeting. Responses to these comments were offered.

* In addition, the project has been discussed on the Dennis Planning Department Weblogs; in all three local newspapers (two print one electronic); and has been followed closely by WXTK radio.

* The project is the direct outcome of very public planning processes for Dennisport including the Dennisport Design Charrette and the year long process to draft the Seasonal Resort Community Zoning By-law.

Certain comments mentioned lack of receiving a notice

* All those commenting that they did not receive a notice in the mail were determined to live beyond the 300 foot radius of the property entitled to notice under normal town Public Hearing procedures.

Project should have ZBA approval

* Project is consistent with the Seasonal Resort Community Zoning adopted by Town Meeting for this property. Use is by-right and must comply with strict design standards that were placed in the zoning by-law. No Zoning Board relief is needed.


Project should be subject to Site Plan Review by the Planning Board

The owner of the property submitted plans to the Planning Board in October and the Planning Board held a public session on November 5, 2012. The public meeting was noticed both by a mailing to those owning property within 300 feet of the property, just like we would for any required public hearing, and it was published in the Dennis Register for two consecutive weeks. On November 5th, the Board accepted public comment. They took no vote as the project does not trigger a Site Plan Review under the Dennis Zoning By-law (just like the change in use for the former Pizza Hut building which recently became medical offices).

The Site Plan Review standard in the Dennis Zoning By-law is strictly tied to the demand for additional parking over the existing use on the site. Heritage Sands reduces required parking from 159 spaces to 63 spaces, and therefore does not trigger a mandatory Site Plan Review. However, in the Heritage Sands instance, the Planning Board and the Public were provided the same review opportunity that would have occurred if a Site Plan Review were mandated, just no vote was called for due to the lack of jurisdiction.

Project should be reviewed by the Cape Cod Commission

* When this project first started to be reviewed by the town, we met with the Executive Director of the Commission and Commission Regulatory Staff under the belief it would trigger Commission review.

* Discussions regarding impacts/benefits of the project led to the across the board belief that the owner should pursue a couple of approaches including a jurisdictional determination and a project of public benefit exemption from review (under a redevelopment limited review application). The latter being based upon improvements under all the regional review criteria.

* A Commission opinion that adversely affected Dennis wind turbine interests provided further impetus to ask for a jurisdictional determination.

* Two requests have been made of the Commission regarding Mandatory DRI review, both times the Commission has determined that no mandatory thresholds are exceeded.



Architecture should not be row houses.

* Property is designed consistent with the Cape Cod Commission’s “Designing the Future to Honor the Past” preserving views and using traditional Cape Cod designs



Housing units are not consistent with the by-law/do not look like seasonal cottages

* There have been many comments along this line. The by-law down-sized the potential size of structures in this area. Part of the change set development standards for cottages. The plan calls for the creation of a new, seasonal, cottage colony. There will be 63 cottages ranging in height from 18’ 8” to 25’ in height. The cottages will provide a mix of one and one and a half story structures. Shorter cottages and cottages with smaller footprints, ranging from 652 sf to 795 sf, are targeted for sites adjacent to Old Wharf Road. The largest cottages are restricted to areas deeper into the property, away from Old Wharf Road. The cottages comply with the Seasonal Resort Community zoning for size, height setbacks and spacing.

* Cottages along Old Wharf Road were kept smaller than cottages deeper in the property to ensure a blend with the properties across Old Wharf Road from the property.

* Cottages are consistent with recommendations in the Cape Cod Commission’s “Designing the Future to Honor the Past” and the examples of cottages used to illustrate the zoning proposal prior to adoption.

* Proposal meets State Building Code requirements.





Concerns about drainage, especially at the end of Shirley Avenue

* Town replaced drainage in 1999.

* Site will contain all storm water on site; thereby further improving conditions on Old Wharf Road in this area

* A trench drain will be placed across the site driveway to capture storm water leaving the site. Along Old Wharf Road the property will also be flanked by a short wall which will block run off headed to the street.

* The trench drain not only captures storm water from the site driveway, it is designed to capture excess runoff from an extreme storm event or failure of other on-site, upgradient, storm water control devices.


Access in and out of site

* Vehicle access through one driveway opposite Shirley Avenue;

* The driveway location was shifted to the east in August 2011 after it was noted that the originally proposed entrance was opposite a residence on Old Wharf Road.

* Pedestrian access for neighbors with beach rights through existing access easement.


A traffic analysis should have been conducted

Traffic issues were discussed with Glen Cannon at the Cape Cod Commission. The ITE Trip Generation Rate for RV Parks (ITE Code 416) suggests 0.37 trips per camp site in the peak hour and 74.38 per acre for average daily travel. The existing RV Park therefore generates about 576 daily trips and about 61 afternoon peak hour trips.
A “recreational home (ITE Code 260),” the closest category for a cottage colony, would generate 3.16 trips per week day, and 1.6 am peak hour .26 trips in the peak hour. As a 63 unit cottage colony this would be about equal, with 199 daily trips with 102 of these occurring during the morning peak and 17 during the afternoon peak hour periods.
The conclusion, the change to a Seasonal Cottage Colony with only 63 units would generate less traffic than today.

The site access should have been left where it is, or located opposite Ocean Avenue

The site access has been a part of many technical reviews with Planning, Engineering, Police and Fire department input. As the photo below illustrates, the existing site driveway is adjacent to a stretch of Old Wharf Road which has both vertical (rise in the road) and horizontal (bend in the road) curve issues.


Ocean Avenue is aligned with the property line between the Haigis Beach parking lot and Heritage Sands. To locate a site driveway in this area would either require joint access with the properties, losing a significant number of parking spaces in the town lot, or creating a staggered intersection which could lead to extra confusion.


The proposed access is aligned with Shirley Avenue creating a four-legged intersection. Exiting vehicles will be lined up opposite Shirley, rather than opposite anyone’s home. Sight distances are also ideal at the proposed driveway location.



The proposed driveway location will be unsafe due to speeding vehicles

The Dennis Police have conducted speed analyses in this area. Average vehicle speeds are 25 mph. The 85th percentile speed matches the 30 mph posted speed.

Vehicle headlights will shine into bedroom

As noted above, the driveway location was shifted to the east in August 2011 after it was noted that the originally proposed entrance was opposite a residence on Old Wharf Road.


Pre-August 2011 Site Plan


Revised Site Plan

* Traffic generation at night is significantly lower than at other times of the day. None-the-less, the site driveway is aligned opposite Shirley Avenue, not anyone’s home. Using the ITE Trip Generation data suggests that all but 80 of the site trips would occur outside the morning and evening peak periods. These 80 trips would be split between entering and exiting traffic. If they were split evenly across the day and night, 4 trips per hour in the of-peak periods could be anticipated. This would mean, generally, 2 entering and 2 exiting per hour. Even at this low level of night-time traffic impact, the applicant has offered to plant screening on the corner lot on Shirley Avenue.

* On August 1st, mid-summer, sunset is at 8:18 pm



Fire and other Public Safety vehicle access

* Several reviews took place with town staff including Fire, Police and Engineering. Traffic circulation and the accessibility of all portions of the site by fire apparatus was reviewed closely. Fire apparatus can reach all structures on the site.

* Special provisions have been designed into the site boat ramp to allow ambulance access to the beach, a feature not now present on this site or Haigis Beach next door.

Natural vegetation to screen

* Vegetation is provided through-out the site consistent with “Designing the Future to Honor the Past” by the Cape Cod Commission. This report establishes appropriate plantings for Cape Cod.


Parking requirements for visitors

* Parking exceeds zoning minimum requirements and is consistent with what is required on adjacent properties.

* Extra parking is provided by community building and elsewhere on site.


Septic location and capacity

* Septic capacity set by Consent Agreement with DEP at 14,300 gpd.

* Septic located adjacent to the community building with mechanical equipment in garage.

* Leach fields located in existing high elevation areas on site.



Will septic generate noise or odors

* Septic facilities will be in close proximity to site housing, noise and odors will be minimal.

* Leaching areas will be below site green areas.


Will septic system be in an enclosed building?

* Mechanical equipment will be in the garage structure adjacent to the community building. All other facilities will be below ground.


Concern about groundwater impacting septic system

* Storm water report includes a soil analysis conduced for the project by the same entity that conducted the analysis for Crowe’s Pasture.

* The soil analysis suggests that there is over 8 feet to high groundwater (wet periods) in the area of the septic tank and leaching facility.

Request to limit waste water capacity to 12,000 gallons for fear of saturation

* DEP established future waste water levels based upon a conservative approach to current use.

* DEP used “campsite” waste water flow for existing flow rather than “recreational vehicle.” This differentiation set waste water flow targets at less than 1/3rd of the current Title 5 flow.

* As set in the consent agreement between the state and the landowner, waste water generation on the site will be well below historical levels.

* Soils analysis conducted for the site does not identify any water table restrictions which would call into question the waste water allowance in the consent agreement.

Time frame for construction

* Site work to begin as soon as possible. Permit applications have been filed and approved by the Dennis Conservation Commission. Demolition permits to begin site preparation work have been filed and are awaiting completion of this meeting. With no additional permitting delays site work can begin in a matter of days.

* Target is for waste water and other site infrastructure to be in place during the winter/spring 2013.

Ongoing inspections

* DEP requires a waste water system which will need an on-going monitoring and maintenance program.

* Dennis storm water regulations require storm water system cleaning and inspections.

* The storm water analysis includes a maintenance schedule and procedures for tracking system maintenance.


Snow and trash storage

* Site layout allows for plowing, what little that might occur, to store snow along the edges of the interior road and at the ends of site parking spaces.

* The Dennis zoning establishes this as a seasonal resort. Access is greatly limited after October 31st and before April 1st.

* Off-season use will be further restricted due to the need for the site office to be staffed when open for use by owners.

* Each cottage includes an attached storage shed for trash receptacles.

* Trash removal will be contracted for by the condominium association.

* No central dumpster will be present on-site.

Public safety issues, i.e. debris, on-site

* At the time of the Planning Board Hearing, site had piles of fencing and other material left behind by RV owners to remove. Much of this was removed.

* Since the hearing the site was used for SWAT team training leaving new issues.

* While some material has been removed, a final Conservation Commission permit is necessary to complete site demolition.

* Demolition permits have been applied for.

Questions regarding fencing

Old Wharf Road

* Along Old Wharf Road there will be a low stonewall. The stonewall will be both decorative and functional. Its function will be as a retaining wall and part of the storm water control system. This wall will be topped off with a short fence.

Haigis Beach

* Along Haigis Beach, a stockade fence will most likely be used on the lower level. On top of the retaining wall, a more open fence will be used. Fencing on the beach border has not been determined, but the existing chain link fence will be removed.

Longell Road

* Fencing along the Longell property line will be determined in cooperation with the neighbors.


Can “Private, Keep Out” sign be removed

* The beach is a private beach which will be shared by the owners of the cottages and neighboring homes with beach rights. Opening the beach to the public is not desirable to either the owner of the property or those with beach rights as the beach will become overcrowded. However, no such sign existed when staff visited the site.


Can the 12″ storm drain into the beach be removed?

* This pipe belongs to the town.

* The Engineering Department is checking the status of the pipe; if it is no longer in use permits will be requested to remove the pipe.

* Property owner has granted permission for the Town to access the pipe location through Heritage Sands


Clarify the word “seasonal” can you visit your cottage in February for a weekend or is it shut down?

* Seasonal is defined in the Seasonal Resort Community By-law as being between April 1st and October 31st.

* Off-season access is allowed, but limited to no more than 4 days in any 30 day period.

* Site management must be on-site for it to be open to cottage owners.


Concerned with grading along boundary on Longell Road and topography on site

* Site will be re-graded along this boundary.

* Pitch will be away from boundary and directed into the site.

* Storm water will be directed to a swale on the Heritage Sands property.

* Ground elevation on Longell Road is higher than on the Heritage Sands property.




Concerned that fill in the flood zone will displace water to Longell Road

* This issue arose with fill proposed for North Side Senior Housing, the FEMA response is that fill in a coastal flood zone has no measurable impact on adjacent properties.

* The fill will reduce flooding on the property. This will reduce hazards on this site and potential for erosion impacts on adjacent properties.



Concerned with multi-story structures on the beach

* Zoning for this area restricts building height to 1 1/2 stories and 25 feet. The previous zoning allowed 2 1/2 stories and 35 feet.

* Surrounding properties are still zoned for 2 1/2 stories and 35 feet.

* SRC Zoning restricted building height to promote more compatible development with surrounding area which is mostly 1, 1 1/2 and 2 story housing



What about an environmental study like was required for house at the end of Longell Road?

* The house in question had many issues requiring Zoning and Wetland relief.

* The house was reconstructed and expanded impacting setbacks, lot coverage and coastal resources; specifically it was re-built in the coastal dune.

* Heritage Sands complies with zoning, relocates existing features out of the dune and establishes resource buffers that are presently non-existent on the site.

* The Dennis Conservation Commission did review and properly permit all site work impacting the coastal resource areas.

* Consistent with all filings with the Conservation Commission, Mass DEP was copied on the Heritage Sands Notice of Intent and provided no comments suggesting that an expanded environmental study was necessary.





Concerned about maintaining views to the water across site

* Homes on Longell Road are located on land at a higher elevation than the Heritage Sands site, hence the retaining walls along the common boundary both under existing and proposed conditions.

* Current views are across RV’s and the Grindell’s office.



Will there be a wall or other enclosed community area?

* The community area will consist of a patio area surrounding a pool and a community building.

* The community building will be located between the street and the pool to provide both a visual and sound buffer between neighbors on Old Wharf Road and the pool. Landscaping will also be provided in this area.

* While a low wall will be located along Old Wharf Road, the height of the wall is not intended to function as a mechanism to wall off the community.


Where will the community area be, and will it be enclosed?

* The community area will be adjacent to the main entry. There will be an office on the driveway side, kitchen and function area and a fitness equipment area.

* Except for the patio and pool, the community facilities will be enclosed.


What will the area look like from Old Wharf Road, is it of backyards?

Concerned about aesthetics.

* The Old Wharf Road border will consist of a low wall (about 30″ high) topped with a short fence.

* Inside the fenced area, between the road and the cottages, will be landscaping. Landscaping is designed to soften the appearance of the community and to protect and enhance views across the property from Old Wharf Road.






Will there be noise restriction?

* Based upon discussions with the property owner, in which the neighbors were involved, the condominium documents will address noise.

* The town noise by-law will also govern the property.


How will access to the easement area be controlled?

* This is a private matter between the owner, the condominium association and the easement holders. As of our last discussion disagreement was evident regarding use of a gate and the size of the opening of the gate.

* Other similar private beach access points, such as the one on the opposite side of Haigis Beach do not employ a gate, only signage.


Easement holders desire to store boats on the beach (email request)

* This is a private property issue between the property owner, easement holders and ultimately the condominium association.

* The easement allows beach access for swimming boating and fishing, it does not mention permanent physical occupation. The town, under a host of takings court decisions is precluded from making such an imposition without compensation to the property owner.


Easement holders want access to the bathrooms and use of the clubhouse for parties (email request)

* This is a private property issue between the property owner, easement holders and ultimately the condominium association.

* Granting this request (by the condominium association) would raise wastewater and zoning issues. As proposed the clubhouse is incidental to the facility. The request would remove the structure, under zoning, as incidental and change its use classification. The request would also impact how it affects the waste water calculations for DEP.

* The town, under a host of takings court decisions is precluded from making such an imposition without compensation to the property owner.

Site Plan Review

Recently questions have arisen regarding Site Plan Review, or lack there-of, for the Heritage Sands project.  A resident of town, who has experience on a Planning Board in another town, has repeatedly been critical of the lack of a Site Plan Approval for this project. An equivalent example of a possibly significant change in use that did not trigger any Site Plan Review was the new urgent care center in the former Pizza Hut building.

The discussion provides an opportunity to highlight shortcomings in the Dennis Site Plan Review By-law, shortcomings which have been brought to the attention of the Dennis Planning Board. Our Site Plan Review and Approval process is triggered by an increase in parking demand of five spaces over existing demand. This captures a very small portion of redevelopment or site re-use. Not too long ago it was even more permissive, only kicking in if existing parking on a site had to be increased by five or more over what existed. This provision allowed significant flexibility in changes being made to properties originally constructed with excess parking.

At the Planning Board Meeting, the night testimony was taken on Heritage Sands, we had several projects that, with minor adjustments, all could have avoided Site Plan Approval. This is something that has concerned me for several years and that I have raised in the past with the Zoning By-law Study Committee (the last time in 2007). I have now brought this to the Planning Board itself for discussion.

The Dennis Zoning By-law states:

“Section 4.1.2 applies to the construction of new buildings and changes of use or expansions of existing buildings which create a demand for a total of five or more parking spaces pursuant to Section 3.1 of this bylaw over the parking demand for the existing floor space and/or said use of the existing floor space, regardless of the number of parking spaces actually physically provided on the site….”

Had Cumberland Farms not had the gasoline station which triggers a Special Permit consideration, argument could be made that it did not have to be before the Planning Board as it reduced the demand for parking. In fact, one could even have questioned whether the relocation of the gasoline pumps would have triggered a Special Permit had they not increased the number of pumps.

Similarly, the former Christine’s property redevelopment only triggered Site Plan Review due to the new floor space being added which increased parking requirements. Had the floor space remained the same as today, the changes in the use of the property, which would have a significant change in traffic patterns, would have reduced site parking.

Finally, Heritage Sands reduces required parking from 159 spaces to 63 spaces, and therefor did not trigger a mandatory Site Plan Review under the current zoning. Some abutters were taken aback by the fact that a Planning Board hearing and vote was not required for this project. This is a consequence of the current triggers in the Dennis Zoning By-law for Site Plan Review noted above.

Back in the early 2000’s I had suggested the Zoning By-law Study Committee modify the standards for Site Plan Review. First I had suggested they use floor area, whether new construction or change of use, to trigger Site Plan Review. Later, in 2007, I had suggested they propose an approach consistent with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office model Site Plan Review By-law. I even crafted a proposed amendment for their consideration. The proposal never got off the ground. Now that I can cite some clear examples where a change in Site Plans could have avoided Planning Board involvement in project review, I hope the Board can see the benefit of making some changes.

The Dennisport resident who questioned the lack of a Site Plan Review requirement for Heritage Sands comes from a community with a very inclusive Site Plan Review standard:

3110. Applicability. The following types of activities and uses require site plan review by the Planning Board:

3111. Construction, exterior alteration or exterior expansion or change of use of a municipal, institutional, commercial, industrial, or multi-family structure;

3112. Construction or expansion of a parking lot for a municipal, institutional, commercial, industrial, or multi-family structure;

3113. Grading, clearing, or other land development activity except for the following: work in an Agricultural-Residential District, landscaping on a lot with an existing dwelling, clearing necessary for percolation and other site tests, work incidental to agricultural activity, or work in conjunction with a approved subdivision plan or earth removal permit.

This by-law would clearly have required a Site Plan Review for Heritage Sands and is the direction I would like to see Dennis to move towards.

Heritage Sands Project


Heritage Sands has filed for Planning Board review. This application is unique. The Seasonal Resort Community allows cottages and recreational vehicle facilities as by-right uses. The Dennis Site Plan Review regulations only create a required review when redevelopment triggers an increase in parking by 5 or more spaces. The change from 144 recreational vehicles and 15 cottages to 63 cottages does not require either a Special Permit or Site Plan Review approval.





During the adoption process of the Seasonal Resort Community Zoning District the owner committed to bringing the project to the Planning Board for review and comment. The owner is submitting the plans to the Board for review although it is not required under zoning and no decision is required by the Planning Board. They are coming before the Board to show the continued town/land owner partnership that existed in the creation of this Zoning District and to illustrate compliance with the zoning requirements.

The meeting has been advertised and notices mailed to abutters, much as would have occurred for a required Site Plan Review. This process was followed to illustrate the continued openness that has been a part of the creation of the Seasonal Resort Community Zoning.

The plan calls for the creation of a new, seasonal, cottage colony. There will be 63 cottages ranging in height from 18’ 8” to 25’ in height. The cottages will provide a mix of one and one and a half story structures. Shorter cottages and cottages with smaller footprints, ranging from 652 sf to 795 sf, are targeted for sites adjacent to Old Wharf Road. The largest cottages are restricted to areas deeper into the property, away from Old Wharf Road.



A community building is proposed adjacent to the main entryway of Heritage Sands.  This building will include the site office, a community pool and a gathering area.  The schematic of the community building is illustrated below.