Dennis voters asked to support zoning to improve conditions for summer guests

Proposed changes would increase visitor dollars in Dennis

By Daniel Fortier

On Tuesday, November 16, 2010, Dennis voters will be asked to support two zoning changes proposed by the Economic Development Committee.  These seek to make improvement for our Summer Tourist Industry.

First, the Hotel Resort District will allow for the modernization of the aging hotel stock in Dennis. Much of it was built in the 1950s and met the needs of that time.  These hotels hardly live up to the expectations of modern travelers.  Here are just a few comments:

“This place is very clean, but extremely dated. You can tell it was built in the 50's and no renovations since.”

Read the CapeCodToday.com series by Gerald Rogovin on the proposed changes.

“We stayed in a small room …not to mention the small kitchenette ….”

“The rooms are small and motel-ish but clean.”

Hardly the comments you build a marketing campaign around.  In order to meet the needs of travelers many hotel properties have tried to renovate. The result has been fewer hotel rooms.  There are 230 fewer hotel rooms in Dennis today than a decade ago.  Hotel expenditures and travel expenditures in Dennis have dropped $13M due to the loss of hotel rooms.

There are 230 fewer hotel rooms in Dennis today than a decade ago.

The second proposal seeks to create a “Seasonal Resort Community District,” addressing the needs of our cottage and recreational vehicle visitors.  One year ago we stirred up a hornets nest by suggesting the 1973 Hotel Zoning for this area along Old Wharf Road be modified.  Starting last November we engaged these summer residents to create a recommendation that reflected the land uses present.  It is fitting that one year later we are bringing a zoning proposal addressing these summer residents to town meeting.  The proposal reflects the hard work and time commitment made by these summer residents.

The proposal will create a Seasonal Resort Community zoning designation in three areas of town. This will make these land uses legally conforming.  Properties will be allowed to be improved and expanded, within the limits established in the bylaw.  The zoning proposal pays homage to the past, while recognizing that the area had always transitioned to meet the needs of the residents.

The zoning proposal pays homage to the past, while recognizing that the area had always transitioned to meet the needs of the residents.

This zoning proposal is not just about land use, it is about people.  People who have called Dennis their home-away-from-home for many decades.  Families have been coming to Chase’s Ocean Grove, Salt Air Village and the other sites for 80 years this summer.  The zoning proposal hopes to ensure them of at least another 80 years.

The town will gain, by ensuring the long-term viability of these properties, the ability to improve them, through re-investment in cottages, RVs and by creating an incentive to implement new wastewater treatment, which will improve the quality of our coastal waters.

Finally the town will benefit from the continuing infusion of spending, almost $5 million this past summer alone, in our local stores and restaurants.

Together these two proposals will protect current tourism expenditures and promote growth in the tourism portion of our economy.

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