Housing Assistance Corporation and the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) have announced the launch of Grow Smart Cape Cod – a land use mapping project that is the result of two years of intensive collaboration between the Cape’s leading environmental organization and leading housing non-profit, proving that the two constituencies need not be at odds. 

Cape Cod faces serious challenges in providing sufficient housing that is attainable and affordable for our year-round residents, as well as ensuring the protection of its remaining natural resource areas, including the region’s water resources. Therefore, APCC and Housing Assistance undertook a town-by-town mapping project to determine both the priority areas for housing and priority areas for natural resources. It is intended to encourage local land use policy discussions to be more productive in addressing the housing crisis and regional environmental challenges. 

“There’s so little land available that we have to be focused and targeted on where we allow construction,” said Housing Assistance CEO Alisa Magnotta. “As decision-makers balance the need for open space and housing, this map will be a fact-based guide for making sure we’re using the limited land resources for their highest and best use.” 

Identifying Priority Housing Production and Natural Resource Protection – Areas (Barnstable Zone II focus)

“The map is intended to encourage more productive policy discussions by municipalities, advocates, and citizens on local land use to help address the region’s housing crisis and its environmental challenges,” said Andrew Gottlieb, executive director of APCC. 

“It highlights how environmental protection and housing development can co-exist to the benefit of the Cape.” 

The project is thanks to Barnstable County and its Economic Development Council License Plate Grant Program through the Cape Cod Commission. Housing Assistance and APCC used the best available data and geographic information system (GIS) technology to identify priority areas for natural resource protection and priority areas for moderate-density housing that year-rounders can afford. The objective of this mapping project is to focus proactive attention on these identified priority areas. 

Grow Smart Cape Cod supports three goals: highlighting the role of wastewater infrastructure development in helping to improve water quality, fostering housing density and affordability in priority housing areas, and protecting the most critical lands for habitat and other natural resources. 

“Current local zoning laws have resulted in 82 percent of our housing inventory being single-family homes all mostly priced out of reach for local residents. Going forward, we need to move away from this development pattern and instead increase year-round housing through affordable moderate-density development in priority housing areas,” said Magnotta. “Our Smart Growth Cape Cod project will emphasize that housing development and protecting the environment can, and should, co-exist.” 

APCC and HAC compiled and analyzed existing GIS data layers. To identify high priority areas for housing, a set of criteria was created focusing on wastewater infrastructure, existing development patterns, and growth potential; the criteria was applied to each of the 15 towns across the Cape. Areas identified as high priority for natural resource protection are consistent with the 2018 Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan’s criteria for Natural Areas Placetypes and utilize existing state GIS mapping of natural resource areas.

Accompanying the map is a series of recommended actions that towns and advocates for housing and natural resource protection can take to move our communities toward our goals in both areas.

“This will be an important tool for towns to consider when revising their Local Comprehensive Plans, and it’s a great compliment to the Cape Cod Commission’s Regional Policy Plan,” said Magnotta. Additionally, Cape Codders concerned about our environment and our year-round community can have a trusted resource that is agnostic and fact-based.”

Learn more at GrowSmartCapeCod.org.