Peter - former Chairman of OKH Dennis - introduces some notable advantages of historic living in this first installment of our series.
In his role as Chair of the Old King's Highway Regional Historic Commission, Peter has often been used as a source for many articles related to wind turbines on Cape Cod because two controversial proposals have come before his commission over the past 6 months. Here is the most recent article on the subject in today's Cape Cod Times.
In this video, Peter addresses the issue of wind turbines on Cape Cod and why historic committes care about them.
This is the charming property with the yellow door guest cottage that you can't help but notice anytime you travel along Route 6A in Dennis Village ..... What you don't know is how beautifully renovated the interior is! A 2006 kitchen remodel resulted in an upscale, inviting gathering place, complete with granite counters and top-notch appliances, yet still in keeping with the home's historic nature. The first floor master has vaulted ceilings and and an airy feel, and each of the remaining five bedrooms has a charm all its own. The living spaces are sun-filled and spacious, and in summer spill out onto the backyard patio and gardens - exquisitely adorned in hydrangea and other summer perennials on this .87 acre property. A GEM in Dennis Village, offered at $879,000.
Folks still complain that when they bought their cherished piece of real estate in Dennis Village, Cape Cod, they had no idea that they were in an Historic area. What a surprise! A pleasant surprise for some and not so pleasant for others. Living in the Historic areas of Cape Cod means living with history. However, it also means historic preservation and that means a Historic Committee will have to approve any designs or changes to your home.
All the historic villages on The Cape have the same fundamental guidelines for architectural features, landscaping, paint colors, windows, cupolas, fences and even flag poles. The benefits are the appearance and charm of all the towns and villages we love so much on the Cape. The down side is the restrictions and regulating that require extra steps and extra effort by the homeowner to meet the guidelines of each Historic Committee.
So don't be surprised, be informed!
- Image via Wikipedia
Controversy is swirling around Cape Cod about the desire of Cape Cod Community College to install a 400' high wind turbine on its West Barnstable campus. The Barnstable Old King's Highway Regional Historic District Committee, the historic governing body in that part of the Cape, was not asked by the College to review the plan. The District believes it is a violation of The Historic Act to skip that step. The Historic Act, passed in 1973, requires review of any proposed structure located in the historic district area north of the mid-Cape highway from Sandwich to Orleans. Additionally, the desire of organizations to "get around" the Historic Committee for the purposes of allowing Alternative Energy installations is troubling because it is the same Historic Act whch many people applaud for keeping the Cape looking like THE CAPE.
Now to the matter at hand. Wind energy is not new to the Cape. Wind mills were part of our landscape since the late 1600's. They generated the power to pump water all over the Cape and graced the scenery with unique architectural structures that stood approximately 12 feet high. Now the desire for alternative energy is creating interest in turning wind energy into electricity. A great idea in search of a better solution than a 400' propeller. Wind energy can be a viable alternative to reduce our dependency on oil. However, the smaller wind turbines are a much more appropriate solution and could be built in areas not visible to the public. Modern wind turbines are not historic looking but they do have a place in the Cape's landscape - provided they can't be seen.
The Dennis Historic Committee has voted to make the area south of Setucket Road but not including Setucket, as an exempt area for Solar and Wind Energy installations. This fresh idea will expedite the process of helping home owners install alternative energy systems and create a short cut, both in time and money for everyone involved.
While details are being ironed out, the Alternative Energy Exemption will allow homes within the new exempt area to apply for Solar Panels or Wind Turbines provided the home is less than 100 years old. Some other specifications might include the colors and shapes of installations but those details have not yet been decided.
The benefit is that an exemption can receive immediate approval and the installation can get started in a very easy short cut to savings and conservation of our natural resources.
We're making progress! Stay tuned...
Alternative energy is coming to Dennis - very soon. Recently, the Selectmen organized an Alternative Energy Committee to meet with the Historic Committee for the purpose of building a game plan to bring modern energy-saving ideas to life. Because it is new, everyone is concerned that the ideas and the implementation of ideas will be cumbersome, costly and slow. In other words, a big hassle.
Not so! The Historic Committee has the ability to create very simple-to-use and easy to implement exemption forms to help home owners expedite the process of installing alternative energy technologies. Before we get to the easy application forms, let's first review the types of technologies that will fit well in the historic areas of Cape Cod.
Cape Cod brings the elements of nature together across many settings of spectacular beauty. The sun, water and wind are all part of the beauty and natural producers of alternative energy. Did you know that wind power has successfully produced energy for over 5,000 years - to power sail boats and sailing ships? Think what Christopher Columbus would have done if he had lights on the Santa Maria! Anyway, solar energy comes in two formats - photovoltaic panels which use sunlight and the thermodynamic panels which use sun heat. Interestingly, the thermal panels are all black and much harder to see.
Further developments have produced thin film solar cells which have the advantage of collecting light from all angles and are even able to collect diffuse light. These solar cells are cylinders that can be used on the back side of roofs which are not South facing. Ultimately, the best location for solar panels is flat and not visible from any public way or place. Camouflaging solar panels and placing them in locations invisible to the public is the most important step in developing a hassle free installation system. Apparently, the thin film solar cells are also half the installation cost and take a third less time to install. I can hear you outside breaking down my door already! You aren't alone, Toyota is putting solar panels on the roof of their new Prius. So there.
Wind energy is the next alternative energy concept for discussion. The 3 blade wind turbines have the ability to capture the almost year-round wind energy coming from the Bay and from Nantucket Sound. Clearly, the issue with wind energy is the visibility. More than likely these wind turbines are headed for more wooded settings and applications. Water front homes and properties can probably achieve success with wind energy on the rear of their lots in places not visible from the road or the ocean. They will require a formal, or more appropriately a certified plot plan to assure the location of the "wind mill" is not visible. Another consideration may be the more historic wind mill look of the old water pumping wind mills that were famous throughout New England in the 1800's.
Wave and Tidal energy are also highly valuable sources of alternative energy here on the Cape and in Dennis. Tidal Energy is a far more predictable source of energy than either wind or solar and can be more reliable. The application and usefulness of these two forms of Cape Cod energy would be more beneficial at a larger scale Town usage in conjunction with water front properties and locations.
As in all cases, residents and home owners have many choices. Which alternative energy works best is an individual decision and should be reviewed in that context. Making it hassle free is coming soon!
Did you ever wonder why there are no chain stores in Dennis on the Northside (i.e. Route 6A side)? Are you missing those neon-lighted signs and all night convenience stores? In case you have, here is the reason why. DENNIS IS THE ONLY CAPE COD TOWN with a bylaw prohibiting chain stores. Although there are specific guidelines to allow for stores such as a Christy's in Dennis Village, the laws are such that we simply WILL NOT HAVE on the Northside what is standard fare on Route 28. These laws which include The Historic Act, also require the use of "historic" materials, designs and structural limitations. More importantly, the people who serve on committees that decide what can or cannot be built in Dennis, have done AN EXCELLENT JOB OF PRESERVING THE LOOK. Boards, such as the Old King's Highway Historic Committee, the Town of Dennis Historical Commission, the South Dennis Historic Committee and the Zoning Board, all contribute to the success Dennis has achieved.
On a personal note, when we left Los Angeles and moved to the Cape 13 years ago, we left behind the West Los Angeles villages of Brentwood, Westwood, Santa Monica and many others who were being overwhelmed by trophy homes that covered literally every square inch of their lot. The lack of propriety exposed the lack of good government regulations that would preserve the natural beauty of those neighborhoods. When we attempted to bring our "California design" for a new home in our new hometown of Dennis Village, we were shot down in flames by the Historic Committee! Thank God, for what we have since discovered is that these committees are EXACTLY why we and thousands of others want to live in the Town of Dennis - because it's so beautiful here! And oh, by the way, that's when I decided to join the Historic Committee myself, ten years ago.
It is no accident that Dennis has kept the look and feel of Old Cape Cod. Preserving the look helps make Dennis a very desirable vacation destination and a great place to live.
So you are trying to get something done to improve your property but dread the local Town Boards will just say "no." Your stomach tightens and your palms perspire at the thought of asking for "approval" from say, the Historic Committee, to do something on your own property - like a screened porch or a pair of dormers to give you some extra bedrooms! Right? Well fear not!!
The purpose of the Historic Act is to help property owners accomplish what they want within the guidelines. That's it. The Historic Committee is supposed to HELP you. That help may come in many ways. Often, a suggestion to increase the size of a window, move a skylight to the rear of the home, add a deck and stairs with some camouflaging lattice work or shrubs makes sense and really looks much more appropriate. Changing grill configurations, trim details and even placement on the property can make all the difference in achieving Board approval and frequently can save you lots of money.
So, when you present your ideas, ask for help, suggestions and guidance. The Board is there to provide an impartial evaluation of your request and constructive suggestions on how to make your property more beautiful and more valuable. You may be too close to see the forest for the trees. The Board will see advantages in matching certain architectural features on your house with a proposed guest house, shed or pool house.
Don't be afraid to ask for help and be willing to incorporate good guidance. That's what we're there for!
A recent Historic Committee meeting reviewed the application for a CHRISTY'S MARKET on Route 6A and Old Bass River Road in Dennis Village. The Committee had several comments for Christy's that would make the proposed renovations much more appropriate for that very historic setting.
For the main structure, suggested changes included changing the color of the clapboard to a historic grey or white. Some changes were proposed for the trim and window configuration which included additional grills. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGES were to the canopy over the gasoline pumps. Primarily, the length or mass of the canopy needed to be shortened or "broken up" to reduce the appearance of length. This could be accomplished by dividing the length in thirds and raising the middle section. The canopy will also be farther from the street than in the current canopy on the vacated property.
LIGHTING will be done IN ACCORDANCE with the International Dark Sky recommendations to reduce light pollution. Additionally, the only sign on the property including window signs will be on the curb which may be raised slightly to create an additional barrier. Some discussion also including additional landscaping to screen the property.
All in all, a very good discussion.
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