Apartments at Twin Brooks win Cape Cod Commission approval
A highly contested plan to build a 312-unit apartment complex at the former Twin Brooks golf course in Hyannis received approval last night from the Cape Cod Commission.
Commissioners of the regional planning agency voted overwhelmingly, 13 to 2, to approve an agreement with developer Quarterra for the Emblem Hyannis apartments.
Dozens of people spoke passionately for or against the project. Testimony focused on how to balance the need for housing on Cape Cod against the virtues of open space and conservation.
Commission chair Harold Mitchell, who represents Sandwich, spoke in support.
“A lot of people put their heart in this, and ... you know, it's never a perfect project,” he said. “Never seen one. … But this one answers a lot of problems and a lot of questions, so I appreciate that.”
The plan to build 13 apartment buildings, a clubhouse and a pool on the former 40-acre golf course sparked organized opposition that began more than a year ago.
Opponents formed a group called Save Twin Brooks. The Barnstable Land Trust hired an architectural firm to design alternatives that would have fewer homes and preserve more land.
A subcommittee of the Cape Cod Commission began holding hearings on the project in March of last year and recommended approval by the full commission earlier this month.
Commission member Jacqueline Etsten, of Harwich, voted against the development agreement Thursday.
“It's going to result in a loss of some 500, 600 trees, and that's just not the way to develop land that is really quite beautiful,” she said. “This is not small-scale. This is large-scale. And it's graceless.”
The commission defines a golf course as previously developed land, which opponents say is a problem because developers face fewer hurdles than they would for land in its natural state.
But others say the apartments represent a step in the right direction to ease Cape Cod’s housing crisis.
According to housing advocates, families earning less than $100,000 a year are leaving the Cape in large numbers because they can’t find housing. Year-round rentals are being turned into vacation rentals, higher-priced apartments, condominiums, or owner-occupied homes.
“Since you have started these hearings, more than a thousand families have had to move off Cape Cod because they have no place to live,” said Alisa Magnotta, CEO of the Housing Assistance Corporation.
She said the location of Emblem Hyannis, near the West End rotary, is perfect for new housing.
Business owner Julie Brooks characterized the opposition as NIMBYism.
“I employ 10 people on the Cape,” she said. “And where are people going to live? You know, I can't just keep drawing from the people who bought houses, like I did, back when Bill Clinton was president. … This is a huge step forward.”
The project now goes to the Town of Barnstable for local permitting. It will undergo site plan review, which determines whether the proposal meets zoning and other regulations.
It will also go before the Barnstable Conservation Commission.