On Tuesday February 22nd I met with Staff of the Cape Cod Commission to begin discussion of the process for applying for Chapter H relief for some development projects in Dennis Port Village Center.
Chapter H is a portion of the Cape Cod Commission Implementing Regulations that provides communities with an opportunity to reduce the role of the Cape Cod Commission in reviewing projects that would traditionally require a regional Development of Regional Impact review. This process usually kicks in for any commercial project, new construction or change of use, of 10,000 sf or more, residential projects of 30 units or more, or mixed use projects of 20,000 sf or more.
The relief being considered is to allow for the change of use threshold to be raised to 15,000 sf, this will allow for most structures in the village to have the ability to attract new tenants without fear that simply changing from a dry goods retail to a grocery store or restaurant would trigger the need for a DRI review. We are also looking for the Commission to relax the threshold for mixed use projects such that the review threshold for a mixed use project would fall in line more with those for in place for single use projects. The specifics are to establish a mixed use threshold of 45,000 sf of new space, with the provisions that if a project added more than 15,000 sf or commercial, or more than 30 residential units, a DRI would be required.
Ultimately the goal is to make the Dennis Port Village Center more attractive to reinvestment than developing an undeveloped, “greenfield, location. Right now, the regional review requirements, when coupled with the costs of working around existing structures, makes virgin land far less costly to develop than to reinvest in the village. By removing the regional review requirements for a modest amount of reinvestment in the village, we make the village more attractive. At the same time, the limits we are proposing, will leave the larger parcels in the village still within the DRI scope.
I have provided the Commission with my first attempt to address the Chapter H requirements. They are in the process of reviewing this submittal and will get back to me with their thoughts on what might still be necessary before the town makes a formal application. As always your thoughts on this submittal are encouraged. You can find a PDF of the document submitted to the Commission here. I expect we will need to modify this as we get comments back from the Commission.