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Opponents gathering strength to fight proposed apartments at Twin Brooks golf course in Hyannis

Jennette Barnes
Concerned residents listened during the question-and-answer portion of a public forum hosted by Save Twin Brooks to rally support for an effort to stop the Hyannis golf course from bring turned into apartments.

Concerned residents filled a hotel meeting room in Hyannis on Tuesday for a public forum hosted by opponents of an apartment complex proposed for the Twin Brooks golf course.

Local conservation leaders urged the audience not to consider the development a done deal, and to take action against it.

The reason there isn’t a Lowe’s in Dennis, or a clear-cut forest for a solar field in Cotuit, is that people turned out for public meetings, said Mark Robinson, executive director of the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts.

“They spoke out. They had their voices heard. You can change the course of this project,” he said.

Opponents have organized a group called Save Twin Brooks, which hosted the forum at the DoubleTree Hotel in Hyannis.

“The work that this grassroots group is doing is tremendous,” Robinson said.

Proposed for the 40-acre golf course are 13 apartment buildings totaling more than 300 units. The site would have nearly 500 parking spaces.

The same parcel contains the resort and conference center on approximately 15 additional acres.

Save Twin Brooks members, including its president, Karen McGuire, say the parcel is the last large, open green space in Hyannis Village, sits at the edge of sensitive wetlands, and should be preserved for conservation and recreation.

Jennette Barnes
Cape Cod Times columnist Larry Brown spoke at Tuesday's forum hosted by Save Twin Brooks.

Speakers at the meeting acknowledged Cape Cod’s need for rental housing. Cape Cod Times columnist Larry Brown said pitting open space against housing is a false choice.

“If green space isn’t sacred, if natural beauty isn't sacred, if the natural order that sustains all of our lives isn't sacred, we'll do what the rest of the world is doing to it, and we'll pay the same price,” he said. “And ironically, will lose money, because that's why people come here. They come here because we're not Miami Beach.”

The Barnstable Land Trust is conducting an online survey asking residents what their priorities are for Twin Brooks, and the land trust has hired a planning and design firm, “to help us come up with a creative vision,” said Janet Milkman, executive director.

“The intent here is really to help the decision makers in this process,” she said. “Yes, we can protest. But yes, we can also be creative and suggest ways that the town can negotiate with the developer.”

Landowner The Finch Group, led by Wesley Finch, has a purchase and sale agreement with developer Lennar Multifamily Communities, or LMC, for the parcel at 35 Scudder Ave. It took effect on July 1, 2020, according to The Cape Cod Times.

LMC is filing an application with the Cape Cod Commission, which the project must clear before it goes to the Town of Barnstable.

Dan Lee, LMC division president, previously told CAI that a golf course constitutes developed land, meaning that much of it comprises altered landscape areas, not natural vegetation. LMC contends the apartment complex would produce less fertilizer runoff than a golf course, and that the company would plant more trees and restore wetlands.

Jennette Barnes
Former Barnstable Town Councilor Debra Dagwan spoke from the audience to express support for preserving the Twin Brooks golf course property.

Speaking from the audience on Tuesday, former Barnstable Town Councilor Debra Dagwan said she supports protecting the land for the village of Hyannis.

“We have to be careful that we don't turn our town, our village, into a village that nobody wants to come to, or live in, OK?” she said. “We don't want that. We have to protect it.”

Before the presentation began, Cummaquid resident Nancy Warne said she was hoping to learn more.

“We’re just animal lovers and, you know, nature lovers. So that's our main concern,” she said.

Jennette Barnes
Janet Milkman, executive director of the Barnstable Land Trust, talked with members of the audience after Tuesday's forum hosted by Save Twin Brooks.

In addition to the concerns about wildlife, wetlands, traffic and more, one speaker on the panel raised the idea that climate change could make this particular parcel even more critical to the town of Barnstable.

Zee Crocker, executive director of the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition, said that 80 years from now, rising seas could cover so much of Hyannis that Twin Brooks becomes a beach.

“That landscape is going to change,” he said. “It's going to change dramatically. And this may be one of the only beaches left on the south side of Cape Cod, in this town, where we can recreate. And that's why it's critically important to hit pause on this project.”

Jennette Barnes
Concerned residents listened during a forum Tuesday on the potential development of the Twin Brooks golf course in Hyannis into more than 300 apartments.

Some speakers pointed to Brewster’s purchase of Cape Cod Sea Camps as an example for Barnstable to follow. They urged concerned residents to contact their Barnstable town councilors.

About 120 people signed in at the door for the in-person meeting, and almost 60 more joined on Zoom, organizers said.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.