The Cape Cod Times had an article today that you all should familiarize yourself with, Cape Cod Commission reform proposed. The article highlights a discussion between the Assembly of Delegates and the Cape Cod Commission on the idea that the Commission should reduce its review role in certain development areas that meet the rigid criteria set forth in the Regional Policy Plan for growth areas.
The snag is a belief that these growth zones should require Town Meeting action prior to being submitted to the Cape Cod Commission. Personally, I think the snag boils down to a misunderstanding of the overall process.
Looking at the existing Cape Cod Commission Regulations, the Commission presently has a process in place for creating Districts of Critical Planning Concern. The process for these areas involve nomination by a town board, review and designation by the Commission, and ultimately formal designation by the Assembly of Delegates and the County Commissioners. A District of Critical Planning Concern, which clamps down on development and land use changes, can be created without Town Meeting action. Town Meeting only comes into the equation if the end result of the process requires changes to town by-laws (such as zoning) which require Town Meeting Action. If the District recommendations only require a change to a Board’s own rules and regulations, such as Wetland Regulations, the implementation of the District of Critical Planning Concern may never go before the voters.
For the growth areas, generally towns are looking at areas that are zoned for growth (either through existing zoning or newly proposed/adopted zoning). Town Meeting will have adopted the zoning in question, hopefully, as in Dennis, with a full discussion having taken place over the type of growth proposed. Thus Town Meeting will have put into place the mechanism, by a two-thirds majority, the basis for the growth center proposal. The nomination of the growth area to the Cape Cod Commission will be taking the appropriate steps for the Town to be able to implement, in coordination with the Cape Cod Commission, the Town Meeting approved growth proposal.
If you try to look at this in its complete nature, with the District of Critical Planning Concern in Dennis, town meeting came into play at the end of the process. With the growth centers being contemplated, such as in Dennisport Village Center, town meeting support actually comes at the very beginning of the process. It may not be as spelled out as some of the Assembly of Delegates members think it needs to be, but an additional town meeting vote to nominate a growth center may actually interfere with the ability to implement the basic zoning initiatives within our Local Comprehensive Plan and already endorsed Zoning By-law.
Why should we care about this in Dennis? We presently have a Growth Incentive Zone Nomination before the Cape Cod Commission for Dennisport Village Center. We have been working closely with the Commission to be able to implement the 2004 Dennisport Village Center Zoning adopted by Town Meeting. It is important to the future of Dennisport that the Commission be able to relax its rules. It is also important that we not have to return to Town Meeting to make changes to the implementing regulations that were deferred in the Zoning By-law to the Planning Board – specifically the Architectural and Landscaping Guidelines adopted by the Planning Board.