Blog :: 07-2008

Mid-Cape Real Estate 2008, Part 3: Alfred Hitchcock has nothing on us!!

At 4:30 a.m. this morning, I was awakened by the birds ......again.  The VERY LOUD twitter of birds outside our bedroom windows.  In my annoyance, I was reminded of the fact that Cape Cod in general (and my backyard in particular!) are veritable bird sanctuaries!  (As is the case with one of the lovely properties we represent,  the backyard of which is a bird paradise.  In fact, so much so that just this afternoon, we had a prospective buyer who said the bird noise drove her crazy! The husband loved it, however.  They are, as I write this, sitting in the driveway, windows rolled down, listening to the bird noise and trying to decide if it's a "deal killer".)

Although I cannot say that I am exactly a "birder", I do appreciate their presence and beauty.  I have often told myself that I would become more educated on our native birds, but so far have just been a curious bystander in their daily antics in my yard.  On the flip side, all is not rosy with our feathered firends The danger they can pose was the subject of a recent Cape Cod Times article  which dealt with the problem of attacking hawks!

The Cape is home to over 300 species of birds and "birding" has become a very popular pastime in this area.  There is a store in Orleans, The Birdwatcher's General Store, dedicated to this pursuit.  Also, in Brewster The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History has a wonderful display of native birds and is well worth the trip to see the museum's marsh view room which gives you an up close look at the life of an osprey family.

I'm thinking that when I do get to know my native birds a little better, I may ask them if they could sleep in a little later...... say until 7-ish?



Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's signs!

In an historic area like Cape Cod, the need for signs will often clash with the need to preserve the historic integrity of the area.  Our forefathers used signs to provide information, direction and identification.  Today, signs often try to do too much and say too much.

This historic act requires signs to be modest in size.  The maximum allowable size is 12 square feet - meaning a sign would be approximately 3 feet by 4 feet.  Signs are also required to be uncluttered and free of special logos and distracting art work that does not communicate a clear message.

Also, the historic district prefers that the signs have no lighting.  Although there are cases where lighting is approved, the preference is to have no lights.

Signs used to be carved from wood and have no colors.  Today's signs should reflect the historic look of simplicity with one or two fonts and colors.

 Above all, signs need to fit the neighborhood and setting in which they are found.



Mid-Cape Real Estate 2008, Part 2 - How can beaches be "private"?

Visitors to Cape Cod, especially those from other parts of the US, are often puzzled by the beach signs saying "No trespassing - Private Property".  And every year around this time the issue raises its ugly head as beachgoers and property owners clash about who owns what and where.

According to a recent article in the Cape Cod Times, of the 1500 miles of coastline in Massachusetts, 85% of it is privately held.  Going back to the "Colonial Ordinance of 1641-47", ownership of beachfront property extends to the low water mark.  Does that mean no one can ever walk across a private beach?

As a regular jogger, I often run in the early morning on the Northside Dennis beaches.  Only once in the 11 years I've been doing so have I been asked by an owner not to trespass on his private beach.  I  invoked the loophole law established in the 1800's that allowed public access on private beachfront for the purposes of "fishing, fowling and navigating".  I was simply "navigating" my way home.  This seemed to satisfy him, but ever since I have been very respectful of the rights of the beachfront property owners.  

Which brings me to a very important point made by the CC Times article - "The root of most beach conflicts is bad manners." Truer words were never spoken!  A little bit of civility goes a long way in these matters.  Who knows, you may be invited to lay your towel down and spend the day!

In conclusion, the fact is that in Massachusetts, most of the shoreline is privately owned and will probably remain that way.  In the meantime, the public beaches, particularly in the town of Dennis, are fabulous - get there early and enjoy them!!



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      Do Solar Panels and Skylights Belong on the Front of Historic Homes?

      The current energy crisis is making everyone crazed about finding ways to save on energy.  The Historic Act encourages the use of Solar Panels and Skylights and Wind Generators provided that there is no change in the appearance of the structure.  The only way to do that is to put the solar panels on the back of the house where no one can see them.  IF the sun cannot be captured by the back of the roof, there are new architectural roof shingles that have solar panels interspersed throughout the roof so they aren't really visible. Skylights make the wrong appearance and also belong on the back.

      Our forefathers were frugal and very eager to conserve energy.  However, they never allowed function to diminish form.  Saving on energy and protecting the beauty of Cape architecture are valuable goals that help everyone.