Inclusionary Zoning
Case Study

Town of Dennis, MA

The Town of Dennis is located on Cape Cod 76 miles southeast of Boston. The town is bordered by Cape Cod Bay on the north, Brewster and Harwich on the east, Nantucket Sound on the south, and Yarmouth on the west. Dennis offers a range of recreational opportunities including sixteen beaches, recreation trails, and other entertainment activities, such as festivals and summer theater provided by the Cape Playhouse, the nations oldest summer theater.

Accesory units on Dennis Street.Dennis is committed to addressing its affordable housing shortage and, through zoning updates and the new Affordable Housing Action Plan, the town hopes to raise its affordable housing stock from 3.4 to 10 percent by 2015. To this end, Dennis's zoning bylaws, which were updated in 2003, include provisions for inclusionary zoning. The following conditions are specified in Dennis's Inclusionary Zoning Bylaws:

  • 25% of residential units in a development that is built on 2.5 acres or more must be affordable.
  • Accomodations for the provisions of affordable units include (1) density increases, (2) reduced minimum area requirement for affordable units, and (3) reduced off-street parking requirements
  • Affordable apartments can be built as accessory uses to both existing residential and commercial uses. Existing hotels and motels can be converted into affordable apartments.
  • Municipally sponsored housing projects are provided with reduced requirements for minimum area, density, buffers, and parking.

Critical Elements to the Program's Success:

  • Stewardship - The town has designated a new committeeSingle-family home., the Dennis Affordable Housing Partnership, to facilitate affordable housing initiatives. A town staff member is the liaison between the Affordable Housing Partnership and Dennis Housing Authority.
  • Sound policy - The new zoning bylaws mandate affordable housing construction and include complementary measures to make affordable housing development economically viable.
  • Funding - Dennis applied for and received two Community Development Block Grants to rehabilitate existing units. To date, 24 units have been completed and an additional 25 units are scheduled for completion within a year.
  • Community support - Dennis worked with local developers (for-profit and non-profit) to create the permit approval process for affordable housing projects.