Form-Based codes on cape cod

An approach to a more consistent, attractive, walkable environment, Post by Jeff Davis, AICP, Planner

Have you heard of form-based codes?

*Form-based codes offer a new way to think about development regulation—one that encourages vibrant mixed-use centers, respects a community’s historic values, and protects the environment. These neighborhoods support businesses large and small, with streets that are safe and attractive for walking and bicycling.

Zoning reform is a process that involves many interests and is most successful with an engaged community that sets goals and communicates well over time.  With proper planning and outreach, zoning initiatives can help transform an area of town for the better! Our planners from our Providence location are excited to be assisting Union Studio Architecture & Community Design and the Town of Falmouth in updating zoning for Davis Straits, a commercial area that is largely auto-dependent.

While updating its local comprehensive plan, the Town expressed interest in an alternative regulatory approach called form-based codes. Form-based codes are design-oriented regulations that place emphasis on the form of the built environment(buildings, streets, and open space) rather than uses (residential, commercial, etc.) as a primary driver of development. This approach is increasingly being used to retrofit older downtowns and commercial areas to encourage more mixed-use and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. The goal for Davis Straits is to establish building types, the relationship of buildings to public spaces, the types and location of streets, the placement of parking, the size of blocks, and more.

“The strategic advantage of a form-based code is that it ties the policy goals of the municipality to the specific types of development that are most desirable to the community”
Cape Cod Commission, Framework for Form-Based Codes on Cape Cod

Although meetings have been virtual, the HW project team created a robust website to help support the initiative. Learn more about Davis Straits and read supporting form-based code materials from the Cape Cod Commission, Union Studio, and Smart Growth America at the project website.

Listen to The Point with Mindy Todd, WCAI, Planning for the Cape Cod of the Future



Free Cybersecurity Assessments Benefit Water Utilities

Horsley Witten Group, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Blog post by Gemma Kite, P.E.

Cybersecurity is in the news and the news is troubling. Given the recent cybersecurity incident at a drinking water utility in Oldsmar, Florida, the topic is difficult to ignore. Our multidisciplinary staff is working with EPA to provide free cybersecurity preparedness and resilience assessments and technical assistance for water and wastewater utilities across the country. To date, over one hundred utilities have participated in the project.

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The Process

The assessments and technical assistance are confidential. We provide the utility with a cyber action plan based on the results of the utility’s assessment. The plan focuses on best practices to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a cyber incident. By adopting these practices, a utility reduces the chances that a cyber-attack will be successful and increases the rate of recovery while lowering costs. The utility receives a clear overview of its cyber vulnerabilities and recommended best practices, like multifactor authentication and password hygiene to help reduce risks to its business enterprise, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), and communications systems.

Best Practices

We help the utility set-up its cyber action plan so that it is feasible for the utility to implement it. Our staff will follow-up with the utility twice during the project which can last up to a year, to check-in on implementation and to provide additional technical assistance.  It is important to note that all utility information gathered during the assessments is confidential, but trends in the anonymized, aggregated data are shared with EPA and others so that lessons learned from the assessments may benefit others.


Our emergency preparedness planners developed the assessment and technical assistance materials for the utilities with EPA using free and available resources from organizations such as EPA, Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC), American Water Works Association, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Many utilities find the EPA’s Cybersecurity Incident Accident Checklist to be a good resource to start the process.

Related Links

For more information about the Oldsmar incident including recommendations on how to mitigate the scheme used in the attack, see the Joint Cybersecurity Advisory from the FBI, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the EPA, and Multi-State ISAC.

 Learn more about HW’s Emergency Preparedness