Town Matters

Be smart- know your flood zone!


Whenever we are looking at a property with a Buyer client or listing a property for sale, one pertinent question to ask is "Is it in the flood zone?"  This is important because properties in a flood zone will require flood insurance - an added expense for the homeowner - if the purchase of the property is financed by a bank.  Do you know if your Dennis property is in a flood zone?

Here is the Town of Dennis website for FEMA's 2013  Flood Zones. Just enter your home's address and it will show you if it is in a flood zone:

Big News in Dennis Village - Gas Station is OPEN!

New Gas Station on Route 6A in Dennis Village


I must be  a slow news day if this item is big, BUT if you have been among those of us waiting interminably for the old Christy's to reopen,  yesterday was a red letter day!  After over a year of construction shrouded in mystery, the new CAPE COD FARMS opened yesterday (not sure about that name as not a tomato in sight....)  on the corner of Route 6A and Old Bass River Rd. here in the Village.  No longer must we head to East Dennis or Yarmouth Port to gas up - we now have our very own station PLUS a convenience store right here in the Village.  The design is attractive and in keeping with the historic nature of the "northside" so all in all, a great new addition to our Village life!  P.S.  $3.49 per gallon.........and no FULL SERVE.

Historically Speaking.....about Cape Cod Wind Turbines and Wind Mills

Modern wind energy plant in rural scenery.
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.


Cape Cod Real Estate 2009: Attention Alternative Energy Enthusiasts!

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...


Reblog this post [with Zemanta] 


Cape Cod Real Estate 2009: How do "Historic" and "Green Energy" co-exist?

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!


Mid-Cape Real Estate 2009: How We Preserve "the Look"

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. 


When Historic Guidelines Really are GOOD for you!

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!


What The Historic Committee Had To Say About Christy's on 6A in Dennis

 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.



Historically Speaking: Energy Conservation

Winter reared its proverbial head this morning with the first frost of the season.  We knew it was coming but we are never quite ready.  Now the concerns of high oil prices and energy costs becomes a vital concern for homes in the Historic District.  Many are asking about solar panels as a major cost reduction and they can be provided they meet the requirements of historic appropriateness and not appear on the front roof of the house.  If they can only be mounted on the front elevation, there are some unique ways to camouflage the design with solar panels imbedded in the shingles or with a shed dormer that is hollowed to make room for the solar panels. 

The Historic Act also encourages the use of vinyl and replacement windows.  Windows are a major source of heat loss and provide a huge opportunity for cost savings. The thermal pane/double glass type windows in wood or vinyl are encouraged and in many cases can be approved as an Exemption.

Weather-stripping and other forms of storm windows are used throughout the Historic District, as well.

The Historic Act encourages conservation of all resources and the use of modern materials that help conserve energy and protect our environment. Stay warm.





  1. evolv limitless on

    Hi, Neat post. There's a problem along with your website in web explorer, could check this? IE still is the market leader and a large element of other folks will miss your magnificent writing due to this problem.

    Protecting the "Place and Setting" is What Makes the Cape, The Cape!

    Promoting the general welfare of the inhabitants of the Cape Cod towns governed by the Historic Act through preservation and protection of buildings, settings and places is the true purpose of the Historic Act of 1973.  Throughout this historic region, the idea is to preserve and maintain the cultural landmarks of Barnstable County with its traditions of history that existed in the early days of Cape Cod.

     Guiding the decisions of Historic Committees is an acute awareness of the individual places and settings in which our properties exist.  Each neighborhood is unique and special in its own way.  Therefore, it is important to determine if a design for a home or renovation is in keeping with a specific group of homes in that local setting or address.  The best way to determine that answer is to stand in the front yard of your property and slowly turn 360 degrees to see what your "setting" is all about.  The types of home designs, materials, colors and landscaping will give you a good idea of what will fit in naturally to your particular place and setting. 

    Of course, the reason we all love Cape Cod so much is because of the way it looks.  Our ancestors knew how to build a vacation community whose architectural features soothe the soul and eyes of visitors and home owners for generations.