We have an area in West Dennis that has been a thorn in the town's side for several years. The area was zoned back in 1973 as a General Commercial district. Of course the district was established, as was common in that time, to be a specific distance off of the property line. No relationship to property lines in the area what-so-ever.
Up until a few years ago the site had a few low lying buildings that greatly underutilized the value of a waterfront property. The Building Commissioner issued a building permit for a clam shack on the site to be replaced with a two story commercial building after making a determination that there was no required board review for the changes. The site got caught up, however, in several state environmental reviews and has been ordered to remove a portion of the structure due to encroachment into environmentally sensitive areas. The site is a waterfront property with significant potential value to the property owner. The neighbors, on the otherhand are determined to try to block any development of the site that would destroy their views of the river. While buying the property is definitely a possibility, my charge is to develop appropriate zoning for the site to establish a realistic use and value.
Now here is the crux of the problem, the commercial portion of the site allows for marina uses. Rezoning the back half of the property would make such a use practical from a zoning perspective. The site is the only appopriately zoned site in town for marinas (we have lots of waterfront but it is all residentially zoned, even the existing marina). The Conservation Commission has now informed me that the river area does not, in their view, support dredging to allow for a marina and that they believe only existing channels will be allowed to be maintained. So, I am faced with the only properly zoned marina site not being appropriate for a marina.
Any suggestions? The site may soon be the site for an affordable housing proposal under Massachusetts Chapter 40B. A neighboring town has defeated a 40B under a similar marina issue. It appears that this leg of our defense may be removed without much of a fight.
Personally I am not opposed to the affordable housing application on the waterfront. There are probably even a few planners on this board who would qualify for affordable housing! However, I need to provide the town with all the tools to address the application and then let the chips fall where they may.
What other uses can the Throbbing Brain suggest that would only be appropriate for a commercial waterfront area? Thanks some photos of the site follow.
This first picture illustrates a low lying commercial building currently housing a windsurfing/kayaking business and the ticketing agency for a "Bass River" tour boat company that operates out of the commericial dock on the site. that takes advantage of the sites boat ramp.
This picture illustrates the new building permitted by the Building Commissioner to replace an old clam shack. The building occupies the old footprint of the shack and its garage. It has been elevated above flood level, the garage converted to restaurant use and an apartment added above.
Limited boat storage, predominantly trailers is provided on site for boaters using the ramp on the site. Part of the state review has now restricted the use of the ramp to non-motorized boats.