About 30 people turned out on Monday, June 17, to participate in a workshop aimed at helping to shape the town’s South Sandwich business corridor.
Specifically, the two-hour presentation and discussion asked residents and business owners to consider different types—or forms—of housing complexes that might populate Route 130 from the industrial park to Snake Pond Road.
“All the towns we are working with are looking at moderate density and looking at zoning changes to allow that moderate density,” said Jeremy R. Lake, senior associate with Union Studio Architecture and Community Design.
Mr. Lake showed photographs of six housing types that might make an appearance along the corridor. They included clusters of cottages, duplexes, townhouses, double deckers, manor houses and walk-ups.
The duplexes were described by Mr. Lake as as two units that share a wall. Double deckers—one unit on top of another—could be a mixed-use development, such as retail on the first floor, with living quarters above. Manor houses have two or three stories with four to six units per building. Walk-ups also have two or three stories, up to 12 units per building, and share common stairways and walkways, he said.
Asked to choose their preferences for which “forms” of housing would be most appropriate for Sandwich, the audience seemed receptive to all but the largest of structures depicted in photos and drawings.
“It seems to me the operative word is ‘quality,’ ” said Robert E. King, chairman of the planning committee, who seemed to sum up the audience’s reaction. “I think all of the designs can work in South Sandwich, but the quality of the work will determine what they’re going to look like in 20 years.”
Mr. Lake said Mr. King was talking about the character of the future neighborhoods, which is an important consideration. He added that there are two large housing developments already proposed for the area and more will come.
“Development is going to come, whether you want it or not,” Mr. Lake said. He added that getting out ahead of that development and making choices about preferences could give planners and builders some guidance.
Town Planner Ralph A. Vitacco said that the voters’ passage of the Water Infrastructure Investment Fund (WIIF) at the ballot in May will allow the town to put the necessary sewers and water lines in place to accommodate new businesses and residential development.
“Developers are always asking ‘What does Sandwich want?’ ” Mr. Vitacco said.
He hopes to be able to answer that question with the help of the workshop responses as well as the responses from a survey from the Cape Cod Commission at capecodcommission.org/survey.
Heather B. Harper, chief of staff for the Cape Cod Commission, said the housing crisis on the Cape will deepen in the near future if new affordable housing units are not added.
The shortage, which now dramatically affects working class tenants, will also encompass middle class homeowners whose salary growth will not match the growth in home value.
“We will be underwater,” Ms. Harper said.
Planning board member David L. Darling said the town will suffer if affordable housing is not provided for the young and those growing older.
“I live in a beautiful home, but if I sell it [and retire], where do I go?” he said.
Mr. Lake said not much development took place on the Cape until just after World War II, when small single-family homes proliferated. Although a few multifamily buildings were added, there has not been much diversity in housing units, which is why the town and regional planning agency are looking at “new” ideas.
Union Studio was hired by the town and the Cape Cod Commission to facilitate the visioning workshops and come up with 3D planning models for the area. A second workshop will be held in the fall, Mr. Lake said. The towns of Falmouth, Mashpee, Eastham and Orleans have hosted their own visioning workshops with Union Studio, thanks to state grants administered by the Cape Cod Commission.
About $20,000 in District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) grant money to Sandwich funded the work by Union Studio—a Rhode Island-based architecture and design firm specializing in urban development.
Developers are hoping the broad Route 130 corridor could accommodate a mixed-use housing and commercial development known as Sandwich Green and another “smart growth” development adjacent to the town’s industrial park that would include housing, commercial uses and renewable energy stations and wastewater facilities.
The Cape Cod Commission will take the findings from the workshop and survey “to develop a regulatory framework for South Sandwich Village commercial zoning district to facilitate the desired development types and density within the study area consistent with the desires of the community,” according to the grant application.