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Town of Dennis, Massachusetts
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In 1967 the Town of Dennis first created a Design Review Panel under the Town’s General By-law.  The Panel was revised in 1972 and, from what I have been able to determine, the panel met until the late 1970's.  While never formally dissolved, the panel appears to have ceased to exist due to  stated frustrations that they, and the town, were both toothless in being able to implement positive architectural changes.

During this past years discussion of the Hotel Resort Zoning Proposal the issue of a Design Review Panel was raised several times.  While the argument was used in a framework to argue against the rezoning, the Special Permit controls in the Hotel Resort Zoning provides exactly the teeth that were missing in the eyes of the Design Review Panel when it was functioning in the 1970's.

The question that arises is, given the new regulatory framework where commercial construction projects in Dennisport and West Dennis Village Centers, Formula Based Businesses in areas they are allowed by Special Permit, and now hotel and motel projects through-out Dennis trigger the requirement for the issuance of a Special Permit, should a revamped Design Review Panel be considered?  Also, should future targeted growth areas be created, should these areas also be subjected to Special Permit control, and therefore design review by a Design Review Panel, in exchange for mixed use and density considerations?

Zoning Control will, necessarily, remain with the Planning Board for the issuance of the Special Permits for these uses.  However, the Special Permit control will provide the Planning Board the ability to take recommendations from the Design Review Panel and see these recommendations through to fruition.

Dennisport Village Center has adopted design standards.  West Dennis has a set of similar, unofficial standards that have been created but not yet presented for adoption by the Planning Board.  Along Chase Avenue, in the new Hotel Resort District, a similar guidance document is under way.  These architectural and site design documents are useful to the point that they provide everyone with a starting point of what the town and regulatory boards are looking for.  They are no substitute for having additional sets of eyes looking over a project and making suggestions.

So, the question is, “Do we want to revamp and re-energize the Design Review Panel to assist the Planning Board in the Special Permit process for commercial developments?”  Or, “Do we want to let the Planning Board have sole site and architectural design control over commercial projects requiring Special Permits?”

I would appreciate your feedback, both by taking the poll below, and through any comments you might want to share.

Dennis Town Seal
Town of Dennis, Massachusetts
685 Route 134
South Dennis, MA 02660
PH: 508.394.8300    FAX: 508.394.8309
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