Blog :: 03-2009

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!


Where to settle on Cape Cod....the age old dilemma!

Dunes at Sandy Neck Beach, West Barnstable, Image via Wikipedia

Long time clients of ours arrived in town last week to look for their next Cape Cod home.  We had sold their Dennis waterfront property back in December and they were now ready to begin looking again.  "Where should we look?" they asked.  "WHAT??!! We thought you were only interested in Dennis, the town you've vacationed in for 25 years!" Despite our surprise, we had to admit that it was a relevant question. A lot of things can change in 25 years!

It's fun to think of how our forefathers, post 1492, made their decision as to where on Cape Cod to settle. Needless to say their needs & wants were quite different than ours would be today.  Can't remember the last time  I've  had a client list "fertiile soil" as one of their top ten criteria!

But there are considerationts to be made even today. Every Cape Cod town has a unique character.  Some are more historic,  offering old sea captains' homes on every block, some offer what we call "Village life", where you can walk to everything - restaurants, bookstores, band concerts, ice cream.  And some are strictly beach communities, where the beach is all there is unless you want to get in your car and drive to the closest town.  Still others are no where near the beach, but offer golf, cultural activities and other less summer-oriented pursuits.  (I am always amused by the occasional client, looking for a home here, who proclaims "Oh we don't need to be near the beach.  In fact, we never go to the beach!)

The demographics of the Cape suggest that there are many different considerations for someone moving here, either full or part time.  A good place to start is to look at your goal.  are you retiring to the Cape?  Are you looking to raise your young family here?  Will this be strictly a vacation home for you and your family?  Depending on the answers to these questions,  you will begin to formulate a plan for which towns/villages most speak to your requirements.

Rest assured that there is something for everyone here on Cape Cod.  And remember one of our favorite sayings (that tends to be repeated more regularly in these times) "Even on your worst day, you're still living on CAPE COD!"


Cape Cod in Winter: Magical!

A recent article in the NY Times about winter on the Cape, brought me back to when we first moved here 12 years ago.  To this day, the word I use to describe my experience about winter on Cape Cod is SERENITY.  Coming from Los Angeles as we were, it was remarkable to me that there existed a place so lovely where you could be alone if you chose, be SILENT if you chose and take an early morning walk on the beach and not encounter a single soul.  Absolute Nirvana for someone coming from the jam-packed cacophony of Los Angeles!

As Spring approaches, there is a bit (and ONLY a bit!) of wistfulness about the waning winter.  There is something magical about this little part of the world at this time of year, a stark beauty to the grayness of the landscape, the red-tailed hawk soaring low over my snow-covered lawn, bracing against the frigid wind on an early morning beach run. 

On the other hand (and there is ALWAYS another hand) it makes Summer on the Cape all the more spectacular!  Winter makes non-Cape Codders think ahead to SUMMER!  Rentals for the Summer 2009 season have been booking up for months.  Summer IS coming......eventually.  But there is sure to be a bit more of winter to ENJOY! :)


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.