The Cape Cod Commission is a regional land use planning and regulatory agency created by an Act of the Massachusetts General Court in 1990. The Commission's ability to regulate large-scale development through Barnstable County (all of Cape Cod, with 15 municipalities) distinguishes it from other regional planning agencies in the state, except for one. The Martha's Vineyard Commission is the only other regional planning agency with regulatory powers within Massachusetts.
Through its Regulatory Program, the Cape Cod Commission reviews projects that present regional issues identified in the Act, including water quality, traffic flow, community character, affordable housing, open space, natural resources, and economic development. Proposals must meet the criteria and standards established in the Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan. Conditions on permits set mitigation measures to address the impacts the developments make on the region. (A fund set aside for cash mitigation that may be collected in lieu of on-the-ground improvements is established for municipalities to use; see a more complete description in the Administration & Finance section of the web site.)
The Commission's regulatory powers are well defined and generally limited to reviews of large-scale developments, known as "Developments of Regional Impact" (DRIs). The Commission's regulations supplement local authority throughout the 15 towns of Barnstable County. The Commission's authority supplements local authority.
Towns refer projects to the Commission for DRI review as:
Applicants may also pursue a Jurisdictional Determination, a DRI Exemption, a Hardship Exemption, or a type of Hardship Exemption called a "Project of Community Benefit" (POCB). The various types of regional review options are described within the Enabling Regulations Governing Review of Developments of Regional Impact.
The complete set of Cape Cod Commission regulations is available on the "Regulations" page of this site.
At the option of applicants, joint state/regional reviews are conducted for projects going through the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office.
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