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Cape Cod Commission working with Urban Harbors Institute to craft a model coastal resiliency bylaw  

Building resiliency through regulation 

A model coastal resiliency bylaw designed to help Cape Cod towns better manage the impacts of climate change is under development.

This is a key component of the Cape Cod Commission’s climate work, and a critical follow-up to the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program planning the agency has done with many towns in the region.

The work is funded through grants received from the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and through the federal Economic Development Administration. 

Over the past year, Cape Cod Commission staff has met with the four partner towns: Bourne, Sandwich, Eastham, and Brewster, to learn what they hope to gain from the process and discuss known areas for improvement within existing local regulations Staff reviewed existing regulations to identify strengths and weaknesses and better understand where language could be improved 

A theme that emerged through this process was a desire to focus on regulating development and redevelopment in the floodplain through wetlands regulations 

Towns expressed a need for considerations for historic properties and implications of redevelopment in these vulnerable areas, as well as challenges in addressing community character while complying with floodplain regulations. Expanding homes, footprints, and elevations, along with pool construction in the floodplain and in coastal resource areas were also noted as concerns.  

To create the model bylaw, the Cape Cod Commission has contracted with the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI)UHI has assembled a team of experts including coastal floodplain and erosion specialists, and those with expertise in preserving historic character and the elements of historic structures.   

Over the next six months, the consultant will review best practices from communities in Massachusetts, the Northeast, and around the country, looking at wetland bylaws as they pertain to development and redevelopment in the floodplain, as well as all other bylaws relevant to the management of migrating and eroding shorelines and natural resources.  

This project provides a unique opportunity to consider and advance the use of existing zoning to promote more resilient practices. It is expected to conclude in June 2021.  

A coastal floodplain zoning bylaw regulation developed by the Woods Hole Group and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, and work by Cape Cod Commission staff to create design guidelines for coastal flood hazard areas will complement this work.  




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