The Cape Cod Commission met yesterday afternoon 4-26 and gave its stamp of approval to a Growth Incentive Zone for Buzzards Bay.
The approval means that the town will have sole control over approval of projects located in that zone that might otherwise have had to seek permitting from both Bourne and the commission.
The commission is willing to concede that control since Bourne has already addressed infrastructure and other issues for the land included in the GIZ.
Once the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates has signed off on the GIZ, something that the town does not believe will be problematic, there is already a project waiting in the wings.
Optimus Senior Living Center wants to build independent living, assisted living, and “memory care” housing for those with Alzheimer’s disease located across Perry Avenue from Bourne Town Hall. Back in 2010, Frederick J. Mielke Jr. presented Optimus’ plan for 144 units of housing on that land, and secured selectmen’s permission for the wastewater hook-ups needed for that development.
Town Planner Coreen V. Moore said the group has been eager to start the project, but had been waiting until the GIZ was approved to file for permits with the town. Now, she said, the ball will be in that company’s court.
There were, she said, three major hurdles to gain approval of the GIZ: the need for plans to address the issues of wastewater; water supply; and the need to meet commission regulation-required offsets.
To meet the latter regulations, the town needed to find land in Bourne that could be protected from growth to offset the density it wanted to see in the Buzzards Bay downtown.
Commissioner Roger Putnam of Wellfleet, however, noted that Buzzards Bay was not building on virgin land, but was redeveloping what had once been a thriving downtown. He wondered, she said, why the offsets were needed.
Commission Executive Director Paul J. Niedzwiecki said the commission would be looking at the regulations again, and if they were amended in such a way as to change the offset rules, those changes could be made retroactive to apply to Bourne.
Commission staff have been working with the town to help with some aspects of the complex application, which has taken several years of work.
Planning board members saluted Ms. Moore for her work yesterday evening at their regular board meeting. “I think they got it,” said Ms. Moore of the commission’s review of the project. She presented the GIZ proposal yesterday.
Bourne officials have been working to help commission members and staff understand the town’s unique position on the Cape. Ms. Moore said Mr. Niedzwiecki helped people to understand that position by sharing the vision he had of Bourne while standing on the grounds of the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School. From there, one can see into the surrounding, non-commission controlled towns, as well as the Cape Cod Canal and highway system that bisects Bourne.
The GIZ will help bring Bourne’s vision for its downtown to life, she said.