Cape Cod City Ponders Fate of Seasonal RV Parks
If they are to be protected from hotel development, the cottage colonies along Old Wharf Road in Dennis, Mass., need to be re-zoned, preferably soon, according to Dennis Town Planner Daniel Fortier.
Fortier and other town officials met Thursday morning (June 3) with dozens of cottage owners at the West Dennis Graded Schoolhouse to talk about the future of the seasonal properties, according to the Cape Cod Times.
The town's zoning regulations have prohibited cottage colonies and recreational vehicle campgrounds since 1973, Fortier said. The Old Wharf Road cottages were in place before 1973.
The zoning does allow for hotel development. So if one of the seasonal properties — Campers Haven, Salt Air Village, Curtis Pine Grove or Chase's Ocean Grove — were for sale, a business such as Marriott Corp. could come in and get rid of the cottages on the property, Fortier said.
Under the current zoning rules, the planning board would have to approve a hotel project if it met town standards, he said.
One way to protect the seasonal properties would be to revise the town zoning rules at fall town meeting to allow the cottages, Fortier said.
He advised cottage owners, many of whom reside off-Cape, to spend the summer getting word to local residents and merchants about the economic value of the cottages.
"We spend a lot of money at the hardware store and local businesses," said Leah Chaplin of Chase's Ocean Grove and Taunton. She asked whether resort visitors would use local services and stores as intensely.
"I've thrown tons and tons of money into Dennisport," said self-proclaimed "washashore" Marsha Ross, who owns a cottage at Chase's Ocean Grove as well as a house and store on Depot Road.
"There is a large density population in these campgrounds and they do come to my store," Ross added.
Yesterday was the first meeting of town officials and cottage owners since the fall, when the future of the cottage colonies and RV campgrounds became a hot topic after planning authorities discussed a vision of the future that included resorts but not cottages.
At issue in the fall was whether town officials would be able to control the type of development that could be planned in the hotel-zone area, Fortier said.
"Up until we heard from you folks last year," town officials didn't know how wedded people were to the future of the cottages, he said.
"You folks came in and said we have a lot of good things to offer to the town," Fortier said. "(We) got your attention and you got the attention of the town."
The town Economic Development Committee will discuss possible zoning proposals on June 17, Fortier said.
The town planner added he's available to talk with cottage and RV owners during the summer.