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Saving Cape Cod land: Commission examines rules for development of recreation, agriculture parcels

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Liz Lerner
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A cranberry bog in West Falmouth.

The Cape Cod Commission is examining its land-development regulations in response to increasing development pressure on recreational and agricultural land, such as golf courses and cranberry bogs.

Concerned residents say that if those parcels get developed, they may not carry the same requirements for open-space preservation as land in its natural state.

The commission has convened a stakeholder group that includes town planners, land trusts and others to consider best practices for recreational, agricultural and institutional land.

They met for the first time Wednesday and plan to meet again in February and March.

Mark Robinson, executive director of the Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts, said more mitigation should be required when those parcels are displaced by things like housing, solar panels, and infrastructure for wastewater.

“They are part of the green infrastructure of the Cape,” he said. “And the salamander that's wandering around on the fringes of a golf course doesn't know it's not in protected open space; it's just habitat to it.”

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Cape Cod Commission
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Housing demand on Cape Cod is expected to increase by 2,137 units for ownership and 575 units for rent by 2025. The housing market contributes to development pressure on the Cape's remaining open land.

The Barnstable Land Trust has mapped about 1,800 vulnerable acres, said Janet Milkman, executive director.

She said she hopes the stakeholders’ conversation will consider the role of those properties in the community, “whether it's farming, or whether it's a ball field or a golf course that's been used as a sledding hill for, you know, 40 years.”

One property that could be affected is the Twin Brooks golf course in Hyannis, where a 312-unit apartment complex has been proposed.

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.