The Cape Cod Commission Act requires the preparation of a Regional Policy Plan (RPP) that provides regional planning policies and objectives to guide development and protect the region’s resources. The plan must identify critical resources and management needs, include a growth policy, contain regional goals, and provide a policy for coordinating regional and local planning efforts. The 2018 Update of the Regional Policy Plan was approved as Barnstable County Ordinance 19-01. It was amended in 2021 to incorporate goals, objectives, and actions to address climate change. The amended RPP became effective March 30, 2021.
Growth should be focused in centers of activity and areas supported by adequate infrastructure and guided away from areas that must be protected for ecological, historical, or other reasons. Development should be responsive to context while allowing for the restoration, preservation, and protection of the Cape's unique resources while promoting economic and community resilience.
Cape Cod Systems
This RPP is focused around a suite of interrelated systems that comprise Cape Cod: natural, built, and community systems. Natural systems are an integral part of life on Cape Cod, providing drinking water and supporting the habitats and landscapes that draw people to the region, guiding development patterns, and driving the region's economy. Built systems - the human-made physical elements of the region - allow for people to live, visit, and work onthe Cape. Community systems are the social activities and qualities of the region, including the economy and cost of living, which depends on the health of both the natural and built systems.
The key challenges that helped form the basis for the policies in this RPP include: forest cover loss; development impacting surface and groundwater; nitrogen in coastal waters; threats due to climate change; vulnerable historic buildings; expensive housing; limited existing infrastructure; and long-term economic stability.
Placetypes Across the Region
The 2018 RPP identifies eight placetypes across the region. They recognize and support the different and unique places across Cape Cod and serve as a conceptual framework for context-sensitive planning and regulation.
Goals and Objectives
The RPP adopts goals and objectives to guide and plan for the future of the region in a manner consistent with the vision and growth policy. The goals and objectives derive from the values and purposes of the Cape Cod Commission Act, preserving and enhancing the region's assets.
Organized around the region's natural, built, and community systems, these goals and objectives form the structure upon which the region's planning work relies, serve as touchstones to guide, implementation actions, and set the measures by which the regulatory review process takes place.
Regional Regulatory Review
The Cape Cod Commission Act charges the Cape Cod Commission with reviewing certain proposed developments which, because of their size or other characteristics, are presumed to have development effects beyond their local communities. The RPP focuses on the review of developments in relation to their surrounds and 15 goals and objectives, which may vary based on how projects are classified by Placetype.
The RPP identifies nine performance measures to be tracked over time to help illustrate whether the region is moving toward the regional vision articulated in the Plan.