The Barnstable Patriot
Zoning for the future: ‘We’re going to get a lot louder,’ says Barnstable Clean Water Assoc.
Barnstable Town Council was poised to vote Nov. 15 on expanding the highway business district on Route 28 in Centerville and Hyannis, and along West Main Street in Hyannis.
Drafted by Barnstable’s Zoning and Regulatory Committee, the proposed zoning amendments are designed to encourage investment in Barnstable’s aging commercial corridors, help meet housing demands, promote increased property values, and make the areas more pedestrian-friendly.
The zoning amendments would increase the types of businesses that could operate in the highway business districts, raise the maximum building height from 30 to 38 feet (or three stories), reduce commercial setback requirements, and ease the regulatory process for multi-use development in those areas.
The Zoning and Regulatory Committee chaired by Jim Crocker, vice president of the council, who owns land along Route 28; however, the proposal clearly states that the changes are unanimously supported by all committee members, including Councilors Crocker, Jessica Rapp Grassetti, Matthew Levesque, Paul Neary, and member-at-large Hank Farnham. At the full council’s Nov. 1 hearing, Crocker said he would recuse himself from the final vote.
The proposal also pledges “to protect adjacent residential land and maintain Barnstable’s unique character and exceptional quality of life.” Approval of the highway business district zoning changes requires a 2/3 majority vote of the council and planning board. Public comment was continued until Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., and the town will notify residential abutters.
Meanwhile, Barnstable Clean Water Association (BCWA) is now monitoring for marine invasive species at seven locations in Barnstable. The cover of the organization’s fall newsletter shows a close-up of angry-orange algae growing in Barnstable Harbor.
BCWA said two new Hyannis Harbor sites also contain numerous invasive species not seen at other sites until this year. The most commonly observed species at all seven sites were the Star Tunicate (Botryllus schlosseri) and the Sheath Tunicate (Botrylloides violaceus). Both tunicates were found growing on docks, lines, buoys and boat hulls.
At the same time, BCWA’s quarterly data demonstrates decreasing dissolved oxygen levels – an indicator of declining water quality – in Prince Cove, likely caused by high levels of nitrogen.
“We’re going to get a lot louder,” Zenas Crocker said in a Nov. 12 interview, his office working through Veterans Day.
“I’m not against sustainable development or sewering, but the untested tools are the missing link,” Crocker said. “Mill Pond would be Barnstable’s first pond restoration. Stormwater treatment, wetlands restoration, dredging – these are all basically ideas that have not been tried on any scale.”
Crocker said he planned to testify at the Nov. 15 joint hearing, as well as the next Barnstable Board of Health meeting. Scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 27, the health board meeting will consider a proposal to modify the town’s regulations protecting salt water estuaries, a change Zee Crocker said is tantamount to sanctioning unmitigated development.
“We (BCWA) cannot support this,” Crocker said. “Any proposed change should be part of our comprehensive water management plan—when implemented, not just planned. We need to have sensible, sustainable development, but why lift the (salt water estuary) regulations for the entire town?”
Visit www.barnstablepatriot.com for updates on both hearings.