Zoning is Broken
There are many existing sites we evaluate that, at the first glance, would make sense to be developed or redeveloped as housing; sadly, a lot of them do not qualify under existing use and dimensional regulations. Conventional zoning was not necessarily created to address the “quality of place” issues that are increasingly seen as essential to the creation of inviting, healthy, and vibrant communities. What complicates matters further, zoning now includes dimensional and site overlay restrictions in addition to assigning land use (for example, Barnstable has 36 zoning districts with 13 overlays). Although established for good reasons (privacy, water/open space protection, etc.) the typical “two-acre” Cape Cod zoning over time has caused unintended consequences that defeat its purpose - such as widespread non-conforming properties and land loss caused by sprawl.
Prevailing “Spot Zoning” and overlay approaches leave very few available “As of Right” sites, where development may proceed without the need for a special permit, variance, or zoning amendment. Instead of creatively and proactively planned communities and integrated streetscapes which we want to encourage, “Spot Zoning” tends to yield site-specific, reactive solutions. As such, we find it unnecessarily complex, contradictory, and out of date – in one word, broken.