Development patterns help define the character of a town’s built environment. By exploring metrics about current development and what it looks like, we can see differences and similarities across the region.
BUILT BEFORE 1950
The first town on Cape Cod, Sandwich, was incorporated in 1639, and the other 14 towns were incorporated by the late 1800s. Cape Cod is rich in history, and its past development defines part of today's character.
Using parcel-level data from town assessing records, the number of parcels built before 1950 was summed, and the density of development was calculated. Development built after 1950 is not captured in this metric.
With its limited land area substantially developed before 1950, Provincetown contains all the hexagons with a score of 10 for this metric. Falmouth and Harwich each contain a hexagon with a score of 9.
Generally, the highest concentrations of older parcels follow older roads, and cluster around ports and village centers.
To view and interact with this dataset, select the "Development Patterns" Community Characteristics Type and then select the "Built Before 1950" Map Type.
Impervious surfaces are areas where built surfaces cover the ground, making it impermeable to water infiltration.
Data from the MassGIS Office, based on ortho-imagery collected in 2005, includes all constructed surfaces such as buildings, road, parking lots, brick, asphalt, concrete, and compacted soil/unpaved parking lots.
The graph below shows that the highest concentrations of impervious surface on Cape Cod in Barnstable, while no hexagons ranking a 10 lie in Eastham. The Outer Cape in general contains much less impervious surface than the Upper, Mid and Lower Cape.
A building’s proximity to others tells us about an area’s development patterns. Structures spread far apart are more common in rural areas, while those close together are more indicative of town centers on Cape Cod. It can also identify concentrations of homes on smaller lots, such as Dennisport or New Seabury in Mashpee.
Proximity was calculated by counting the number of structures within one acre of each individual building.
FLOOR AREA RATIO
Floor Area Ratio (FAR) is a measure of the bulk and mass of structures on a site.
The ratio is generated by dividing the building area by the parcel area, and is often used by local governments in zoning codes. Higher FARs tend to indicate the presence of larger structures or structures that occupy relatively more space on a parcel, perhaps through multiple stories.
The FAR was calculated using parcel-level assessing data, and dividing the structure square footage by the upland area of the parcel. (The upland area was determined to be the total parcel area, minus the wetland area.)
The Mid Cape has many hexagons scoring above average in the FAR metric, indicative of the higher presence of multi-story structures.
Intersection density helps define the relative connectivity and walkability of a location. Increased connectivity has the potential for more interactions between people (such as villages and mixed-use residential communities), and it has greater potential for more pedestrian and bicycle activity.
The MassDOT road network dataset provided the number of intersections, which were then summed per hexagon.
The towns with the highest concentrations of intersection density are Falmouth, Harwich, and Mashpee. The Lower Cape and Sandwich are near the average number of road intersections for Cape Cod’s hexagons, but Truro was well below average with all hexagons scoring a 5 or below.
The amount of a parcel that is covered by a building’s footprint is another method of determining the density of development. This ratio is different from FAR because it does not account for the height of a building – just the amount of space the building’s footprint will take up within the upland area oaf a parcel. Higher ratios tend to be found in denser, more developed areas. Commercial corridors across the Cape are evident in this layer.
Parcel-level assessing data and the structures dataset were used to generate area-weighted values for each parcel.
Main Street in Falmouth has several hexagons scoring a 10 in Parcel-Structure ratio, along with Route 132 in Hyannis and Commercial Street in Provincetown.
DISTANCE OF STRUCTURES FROM MAJOR RIGHTS OF WAY
Although the parcel-structure ratio and FAR hint at how much space there is between a parcel’s edge and the structure on it, the location of the structure on the parcel also tells an important story. This metric assesses the proximity of structures to the road edge.
The Rights of Way (ROW) for MassDOT-designated major roads were used for this calculation, and buildings within 25 feet of the ROWs were identified. The buildings were then counted for each hexagon.
In town and village centers, buildings tend to be placed closer to the street, enhancing the pedestrian experience and helping to generate more activity in an area (e.g., Chatham). Conversely, development at greater distances to the road edge may be more auto-oriented or consist of residential subdivisions with greater setbacks from the roadway (e.g., Eastham).