In the space of six weeks, the Town of Bourne saw three major revitalization initiatives come to fruition: the Cape Cod Commission’s designation of the business district of Buzzards Bay Village, Bourne’s Downtown, as a Growth Incentive Zone, thus easing the permitting process; Town Meeting’s nearly unanimous affirmation of four articles establishing architectural and sign guidelines and standards; and the start of the final phase of Main Street streetscape improvements.
Each of these initiatives is part of a revitalization plan designed to make Bourne’s Downtown a more desirable place for investment and development. In addition to the recent activities, Downtown District Zoning By-laws passed in 2008 allow for greater height and greater density, and create opportunities for better return on investments. They also encourage mixed use, buildings with retail and businesses on lower floors and residential units on upper floors where they command views of the Cape Cod Canal.
Cape Cod Commissioners voted unanimously to accept the Town’s application to designate Downtown Bourne, as a Growth Incentive Zone. In a GIZ, a specified amount of development can proceed without Cape Cod Commission review, effectively removing one level of permitting for potential investors and developers. The Commissioners forwarded the document to the County Assembly of Delegates for a June vote, thus codifying the special designation that fosters mixed-use growth and redevelopment in economic centers. Specified projects in the GIZ will need only the Town’s maximum 120-day permitting process, saving developers time and expense.
Town Meeting voters approved By-laws that establish architectural and sign guidelines and standards, and create a Design Review Committee. The guidelines and standards apply to projects in the Downtown Zoning District, the same area as the GIZ. All new downtown architectural projects will be reviewed by the Design Review Committee and its recommendation will be forwarded to the appropriate governing board. New or replacement signs in the Downtown District will be reviewed by the Committee and a recommendation sent to the Building Inspector. These new guidelines and standards will make it easier for potential developers to know what the Town’s vision is, thus saving time and expense by reducing the need to adjust architectural plans mid-stream.
The third phase of Main Street streetscape included new sidewalks, landscaping, and other amenities beginning at Belmont Circle and extending to the end of the second phase of streetscape work completed in 2003. The project is funded by a supplemental appropriation in the state budget promoted by State Senate President Therese Murray. Through a competitive bid process, I. W, Harding Construction Company Inc. was selected for the project.
These revitalization projects began in 2007 when a state grant, also championed by Sen. President Murray and other members of the Town’s legislative delegation, to the Bourne Financial Development Corporation was used to contract with Stantec Planning and Landscape Architects PC to create a vision for a new downtown district in Bourne’s Buzzards Bay Village. Additional grants supported other studies including one that identified ways to build in the flood zone that covers about a third of the downtown district, and another that created an Action Plan to turn the vision into reality. That Action Plan was presented by the BFDC to the Bourne Board of Selectmen which accepted it during a May 2009 meeting. The Downtown Zoning District and By-laws supporting smart-growth initiatives were approved enthusiastically by an October 2008 Town Meeting vote.