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Thread: Waterfront zoning help (photos attached)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2004
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    Dennis, MA
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    197

    Waterfront zoning help (photos attached)

    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.

    Planning is much like acting, as my old theater professor used to say, "If you sin, sin boldly, only you know if you are ad libbing." I follow this adage almost daily.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    Edmonton
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    5,502
    I have worked in two communities that have shoreline resources (one on the Puget Sound and one on the Columbia River). In both cases, we relied heavily on a Shoreline Master Program (meaning a master plan for shoreline areas). A reference was made in the Zoning Ordinance to the plan and all of the specific regs were in that SMP.

    If you have not gone through a master planning exercise, it would be useful just so you can get actual documented feedback from various agencies regarding whether or not dredging can occur and where various uses would best be located. Both of the municipalities I described had a few classifications for uses: water-oriented, water-related and water-dependent.

    If you do not have the resources for master planning, I would favour a mixed use type of development along the uplands with pedestrian oreinted boardwalks along the river (of course outside of any sensitive areas). Try to maintain access to the riverfront. Are there any master plans associated with the river? Even recreation plans would help narrow down the city's vision of how they want the river area preserved or developed. Try to draw upon some of the policies in those plans to help determine the uses.

    Are there opportunities to have input on the type of affordable housing project that would be proposed, such as stipulating that residences also have commercial components of a water-oriented nature?

    Also, what size city is this? (Sorry, I don't know much about MA)... Maybe I can give you some comparable communities for you to call to get some examples of plans.

  3. #3
    Member
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    Jul 2004
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    Singapore
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    15
    I would agree with Nerudite that it is worthwhile doing a Master Plan for the area. From your description of the area and its uses, it seems that the area would lend itself well to low impact water oriented recreation use, such as canoeing, kayaking, etc, with complementary commerical uses such as F&B or other commercial activities related to recreation and leisure. Public access and enjoyment of the waterfront should be one of the primary objectives as well. If there are established natural wildlife habitats in the area, then these can also complement the leisure/recreation aspects, with nature trails, etc, to allow people to enjoy the natural heritage in the area.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jun 2004
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    Dennis, MA
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    197
    Quote Originally posted by nerudite
    I have worked in two communities that have shoreline resources (one on the Puget Sound and one on the Columbia River). In both cases, we relied heavily on a Shoreline Master Program (meaning a master plan for shoreline areas). A reference was made in the Zoning Ordinance to the plan and all of the specific regs were in that SMP.

    If you have not gone through a master planning exercise, it would be useful just so you can get actual documented feedback from various agencies regarding whether or not dredging can occur and where various uses would best be located. Both of the municipalities I described had a few classifications for uses: water-oriented, water-related and water-dependent.

    If you do not have the resources for master planning, I would favour a mixed use type of development along the uplands with pedestrian oreinted boardwalks along the river (of course outside of any sensitive areas). Try to maintain access to the riverfront. Are there any master plans associated with the river? Even recreation plans would help narrow down the city's vision of how they want the river area preserved or developed. Try to draw upon some of the policies in those plans to help determine the uses.

    Are there opportunities to have input on the type of affordable housing project that would be proposed, such as stipulating that residences also have commercial components of a water-oriented nature?

    Also, what size city is this? (Sorry, I don't know much about MA)... Maybe I can give you some comparable communities for you to call to get some examples of plans.
    Thanks for the comments. We have both a Master Plan and a local Opens Space Plan. Neither of these plans actually place the preservation emphasis on this property that its neighbors do. Quite honestly nothing but the developer tearing down what is there and then leaving it vacant will satisfy the neighbors. They want a public park without the cost of acquisition.

    The town has about 63 miles of coastline of which this parcel is maybe 500 feet. There is a small mostly residential enclave immediately across the street from the property in question, otherwise the area has hotels, an operating marina, and various commercial uses on the Dennis side of the river. On the Yarmouth side of the river is a residential condominium complex with limited access to the water. Thus this property is within a rather urbanized area in relation to much of the town.

    It has a small 1/2 acre park beside it that was a gift to the town many years ago. The neighbors envision a riverwalk on our side of the Bass River to match one in Yarmouth. In Yarmouth the walk is along the south side of Route 28 where the town actually had some control of the properties it does not cross any private land. A comparable walk in Dennis would be similarly on the south side of Route 28 as it could be linked with Yarmouth by the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge over the Bass River - however this is over the properties of those who want the walk on the north side over this outside property owners land. Of course the walk goes nowhere beyond this property and the town property.

    The property owner is proposing a walkway across the property (Boardwalk) as it would be located in a filled tideland area. But the neighbors also oppose the height of the proposed structures. I do believe that in the end we might leave the zoning alone on the site or adopt a transfer of development rights that might allow the owner to recover his financial interests. But I cannot think of any unique use that would be required to locate on the water that would justify and support stopping the currently underdevelopment project. (we have a kayaking school that operates on a site with no waterfront, pretty much a home occupation that meets at the locations around town that they will be kayaking...)

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Planning is much like acting, as my old theater professor used to say, "If you sin, sin boldly, only you know if you are ad libbing." I follow this adage almost daily.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Waldorf, MD
    Posts
    6
    Denis: I am looking for waterfront development district language for updating our comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. Can you refer me to any direct links or jurisdictions that already have such language? I need the information for a rural/suburban area in Southern MD.

    Quote Originally posted by DennisMaPlanner
    Thanks for the comments. We have both a Master Plan and a local Opens Space Plan. Neither of these plans actually place the preservation emphasis on this property that its neighbors do. Quite honestly nothing but the developer tearing down what is there and then leaving it vacant will satisfy the neighbors. They want a public park without the cost of acquisition.

    The town has about 63 miles of coastline of which this parcel is maybe 500 feet. There is a small mostly residential enclave immediately across the street from the property in question, otherwise the area has hotels, an operating marina, and various commercial uses on the Dennis side of the river. On the Yarmouth side of the river is a residential condominium complex with limited access to the water. Thus this property is within a rather urbanized area in relation to much of the town.

    It has a small 1/2 acre park beside it that was a gift to the town many years ago. The neighbors envision a riverwalk on our side of the Bass River to match one in Yarmouth. In Yarmouth the walk is along the south side of Route 28 where the town actually had some control of the properties it does not cross any private land. A comparable walk in Dennis would be similarly on the south side of Route 28 as it could be linked with Yarmouth by the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge over the Bass River - however this is over the properties of those who want the walk on the north side over this outside property owners land. Of course the walk goes nowhere beyond this property and the town property.

    The property owner is proposing a walkway across the property (Boardwalk) as it would be located in a filled tideland area. But the neighbors also oppose the height of the proposed structures. I do believe that in the end we might leave the zoning alone on the site or adopt a transfer of development rights that might allow the owner to recover his financial interests. But I cannot think of any unique use that would be required to locate on the water that would justify and support stopping the currently underdevelopment project. (we have a kayaking school that operates on a site with no waterfront, pretty much a home occupation that meets at the locations around town that they will be kayaking...)

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Sep 2001
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    6,958
    This site might give you some ideas:

    http://www.sjwaterfront.com/
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

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