Ocean DCPC Hearings Begin Feb. 10
By: Michael C. Bailey
The Cape Cod Commission (CCC) unanimously approved the application for the first-ever Ocean Management District of Critical Planning Concern (DCPC), and has scheduled a series of five hearings at which the public may weigh in on the proposal.
The Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners filed the DCPC application last month, nominating for approximately 900 square miles of ocean surrounding Cape Cod – the first three miles of ocean as measured from 1,500 feet from the coast (over which individual towns have jurisdiction).
A full moratorium on all development within that zone went into immediate effect, and the acceptance of the nomination last Thursday has now put in place a limited moratorium. According to Heather McElroy, natural resource specialist for the CCC, certain activities will be exempt from the moratorium, including but not limited to: repairs of structures (i.e. jetties and moorings), maintenance dredging, all fishing and aquaculture, sand mining for emergency beach restoration, and aquatic recreational activities.
The list of allowable uses was complied with extensive input from the Cape’s 15 towns, Ms. McElroy said.
William Doherty, vice-chairman of the county commissioners, said the intent of the DCPC was to ensure that Cape Cod retained direct control over its own waters rather than ceding authority to the state. This action is allowed under the state’s Ocean Management Plan, which was promulgated on December 31, 2009.
The commissioners and those members of the audience who spoke at Thursday’s hearing were largely in favor of the DCPC. George D. Bryant, who represents Provincetown on the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, voiced the only opposition to the DCPC on the grounds that it could block any future commercial wind turbine development in the designated area, which he said could in turn rob the Cape of a future economic engine.
“It more or less puts the kibosh on the future of wind energy in Cape Cod Bay,” Mr. Bryant said, adding that recent ocean zoning efforts at the state level were a knee-jerk reaction to the Cape Cod Wind Farm project; critics say developers skirted state jurisdiction by intentionally siting the project for an area of Nantucket Sound that falls outside the state’s three-mile zone of authority.
Paul J. Niedzwiecki, executive director of the Cape Cod Commission, said the DCPC “is not anti-wind at all,” but ensures that Cape residents have a say over the scale and location of such facilities. The Ocean Management Plan allows for “appropriately scaled” renewable energy generation technology, and explicitly places the responsibility of determining appropriate scale and precise location with regional planning agencies.
Ms. McElroy added that the hearings will also give residents an opportunity to further adjust the boundaries of the DCPC, which currently does not include certain harbors and estuaries, including Barnstable Harbor.
The first of the five public hearings is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10 at 6 PM and will be held in the Chamber of the Assembly of Delegates, located in the basement of the Barnstable First District Courthouse on Route 6A in Barnstable.
Bourne High School will host the Upper Cape-area hearing on Wednesday, February 24 at 6 PM. Bourne High School is located at 75 Waterhouse Road in Bourne.
Written comments may also be sent to the Cape Cod Commission by mail to PO box 226, 3225 Main Street, Barnstable, MA 02630.
For more information on the Ocean Management Planning DCPC, visit the Cape Cod Commission website.
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