Revitalizing Main Street, Dennisport Regional Regulatory Relief Proposal Summary

On November 7, 2011 the Dennis Planning Board will hold a public hearing to receive comments on a request to the Cape Cod Commission to modify the thresholds for triggering Regional Development of Regional Impact reviews. The town is requesting the Commission increase the thresholds within the Dennisport Village Center Zoning Districts. The hearing will begin at 7 pm and will be held in the Large Hearing Room at Dennis Town Hall. The reasoning behind the request, the request itself, and the benefits to the Village are described below.


Cape Cod Commission DRI thresholds, the cost in both time and money of Cape Cod Commission review and the costs of redevelopment within urbanized centers all tend to favor development within “greenfield” areas over redevelopment in urban centers. Higher thresholds for redevelopment and removing the burden of Cape Cod Commission involvement in this redevelopment, is critical to off-setting the cost of redevelopment. The state and the Regional Policy Plan both support Smart Growth development over sprawl. The requested relief will provide development thresholds in the Dennisport Village Center that will accommodate smart growth, urban redevelopment, and mixed use development that will guide growth into an area where walking, bicycling and public transportation are viable options, and development densities will provide viable, cost effective waste water treatment, and away from greenfield areas which do not support these alternatives. Chapter H and this request for relief provides an opportunity to use the Commission Regulatory scheme to promote concentrated development and provide urban center redevelopment with a financial advantage over “greenfield” development.

The Town of Dennis is seeking threshold changes for the Dennisport Village Center Areas A and B under Chapter H of the Cape Cod Commission Regulations of General Application Municipal Application for Revisions to DRI Thresholds consistent with the Cape Cod Commission Regional Policy Plan and the adopted Town of Dennis Land Use Vision Map. The two zoning districts represent the smart growth approach to planning, by bringing housing, shopping and working together in a mixed use environment. The Dennisport Village Center has been recognized as an example of Smart Growth by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and by the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association. The district promotes and requires adding a housing element to an otherwise commercial area, there-by creating the opportunity to re-create the type of village that was once indicative of the Dennisport Village Center.

The town’s rezoning of the Dennisport Village area has improved the development climate at the local level, establishing density increases to promote new investment, and providing clear guidance on moving through the local development review process. The town is looking at the Proposed Changes to Thresholds in Dennisport as an opportunity to further improve the development approval process by reducing regional permitting requirements, red tape and added costs due to the application process and simply the time involved in getting a permit approved. The town believes that the zoning implemented for this area is consistent with both the Dennis Local Comprehensive Plan and the Cape Cod Commission’s Regional Policy Plan.


In order to promote the redevelopment of this area, the town is seeking two changes to the Cape Cod Commission Development Review process. These changes modify thresholds to encourage property owners to reinvest in the village. This reinvestment will promote an improved business and environment, and improved environmental quality (septic upgrades, improved drainage, etc.).

Specifically the town is asking the Commission to modify the Development of Regional Impact review criteria in the following fashion:

  • For mixed use projects increase the development review threshold to 45,000 sf provided that no commercial component may exceed 15,000 sf without triggering DRI review and provided that no residential component may exceed 30 residential units or 45 bedrooms without triggering DRI review.
  • For the change of use of existing floor space, to raise the regional review threshold from the existing 10,000 sf of floor area to 15,000 sf of floor area.

This change will promote mixed use redevelopment in the village, where development costs will be significantly higher than to develop in “greenfield” areas.

As part of this request, the town recognizes that a small portion of the Village Center lies within the Swan Pond River Watershed, an area that has been identified for a “no net increase” in nitrogen loading in the Regional Policy Plan. The analysis in this report suggests that there is only one property within this watershed which might benefit by the requested relief, and that the property has alternatives to allow the location of wastewater facilities outside of the Swan Pond River Watershed. The town suggests the following condition as part of this Chapter H Approval:

  • Development on Dennis Assessor’s Map 89 Parcel 28 ( 197 Upper County Road) shall locate its waste water treatment facilities on a portion of the property located outside of the Swan Pond River Watershed.


The proposed non-residential threshold changes represent, under a theoretical full build-out scenario, 41,596 sf of non-residential development. The threshold increase would create the opportunity for a more vibrant Dennisport Village Center. This floor space represents the development potential across 14 parcels which theoretically expand by over 10,000 sf of non-residential floor space. While a few of these parcels could theoretically exceed 15,000 sf, most of the lots benefit by being allowed to modestly exceed the 10,000 sf threshold by one or two thousand square feet.

The proposed residential change would allow an additional 117 units of housing (33 in the core and 84 in the surrounding area) to be constructed in the village without Commission involvement. Of these 117 units, at least 30, and probably more, would be deed restricted affordable. Of the 33 units in the core, given the exemption provided to the building at the corner of Route 28 and Hall Street, most of these 33 units would be exempted even without the proposed change.

Finally, the change of use provisions provide an opportunity for most buildings in the district to change their use under the strict interpretation of a “change of use” used by the Cape Cod Commission without triggering regional review.


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