In recent weeks much has attention has been paid to the possibility of Lowes opening a home center in Dennis. As news articles have confirmed, Lowes has stated an interest in locating a new store in Dennis on Theophilus Smith Road. The site is presently occupied by Dick and Ellie’s Flea Market and the Inflatable Park. It is expected that these two uses will seek an alternate location in Dennis if they have to relocate.
As of now Lowes has not submitted an application for review by the Dennis Planning Board. They have had preliminary discussions with town staff regarding traffic issues and steps they will need to take to mitigate traffic impacts.
At some point soon the Lowes Homestore will file an application for what appears to be 128,300 sf facility including lumber store, home goods and nursery. The path it will follow through the regulatory process is a bit different from most as it will trigger an automatic referral to the Cape Cod Commission for a review as a Development of Regional Impact. Below are my expectations for the overall process:
1. Lowes files application with the Planning Board for Site Plan Review
2. Immediate, mandatory, referral to the Cape Cod Commission
3. Lowes files application with Cape Cod Commission
4. Commission schedules Public Hearing(s) in Dennis
The DRI will look at Open Space, Traffic, Affordable Housing, Economic Impacts, Stormwater and Energy implications.
For Open Space land or a fee will be required to provide for protection of open space in Dennis. The requirement appears to be at about 2 acres of protected open space, or a fee equal to what would it would cost to buy that amount of land.
Traffic requirements call for mitigation at its driveway and immediately adjacent intersections. We are looking for the consolidation of the Cranberry Plaza, Cumberland Farms, Patriot’s Square and site driveways to use a single signalized intersection. However, we have asked the representatives of Lowes to look at a number of other access options as well so we can have the best long term solution possible. We also expect some changes at the Theophilus Smith Road/Route 134 intersection. The project will also have to look at every intersection that gets 25 or more vehicle trips. The Commission also provides for mitigation fees related to these more distant impacted locations which the town and Commission would over see the use of.
Affordable Housing impacts are based upon a fee schedule reviewed annually by the Commission. Collected funds are paid to the county for use in Dennis for the provision of Affordable Housing. The Housing Trust would most likely oversee the use of these funds when their by-law is re-written.
Economic impact assessment, while straight-forward, is a bit more nebulous. Competition is not a basis for denial of a project, but the Commission reviews these impacts and may adjust mitigation requirements accordingly.
Stormwater analysis sets out to ensure no net increase in site stormwater discharge. Mostly this occurs on-site and has little off-site impacts.
Energy analysis sets a requirement for a portion of the site’s energy uses to come from renewable resources. Most likely this will require Lowes to incorporate solar into its site design.
5. Public Hearing is held and results of above studies are reviewed
6. Commission establishes projects Minimum Performance Standards, required improvements, and mitigation fees.
7. Upon Commission approval, Planning Board Hearing is scheduled. While it is possible for the Planning Board to hold its hearing concurrently with the Cape Cod Commission’s hearing, there is little experience with this on Cape Cod. Joint Hearings may be preferable, as it would allow more town input into the Commission’s final decision. All to often town approvals after the Commission review is complete is simply a rubber stamp of the Commission’s decision. We will at least explore the possibility of concurrent review in order to maximize Planning Board involvement in this process.
8. Planning Board actions are limited to approval or approval with conditions under Site Plan Review. As retail uses are a by-right use in the Industrial District the Planning Board cannot reject the application unless there is a violation of the Dennis Zoning By-law.