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.

Image credit: comparitech.com

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.

Resources

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

 

 

collin buckner

Emergency Response Planner

We are happy to announce that Collin Buckner has joined our Emergency Preparedness team as an Emergency Response Planner! As a former TED Talk participant, we feel confident he will be an excellent presenter! Collin relocated to Massachusetts from Mobile, Alabama where he worked as an NOAA contractor supporting the NOAA Disaster Preparedness Program in preparedness, training, research, and response efforts while seated at NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center. 

Prior to working in Alabama, Collin spent nearly a year on Cape Cod as part of the Barnstable County AmeriCorps working with the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee (BCREP) and the Town of Falmouth Marine and Environmental Services. Little did he know that meeting Carl Simons, Senior Emergency Response Manager with HW, during his time with BCREP would lead to a planner opportunity at HW!

Collin earned a B.A. in Integrated Studies from Miami University in Ohio. His work will be primarily supporting our Emergency Preparedness team with water security projects.

When Collin is not working, he enjoys exercising in the gym, trail running, riding his bike along the Cape Cod Canal or Cape Cod Rail Trail, hanging out with his dog Arlen and reading Malcolm Gladwell! Welcome, Collin!

 

jeff polidor

Survey, GIS Technician

Jeff started out with HW as an intern with our survey and engineering group over a year ago! Today we are happy to announce that he has joined our survey team full-time as a Survey-GIS technician working mainly out of our Sandwich, MA office.

Jeff earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Science in 2020 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has a Certificate in Geographical Information Sciences and Technology. His technical experience as a Geographic Data Analyst and Web Developer will be valuable to both our staff and clients. He looks forward to using spatial data to make positive environmental and socioeconomic changes. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys playing guitar in his band and seeing other groups perform live!

Welcome Jeff to HW!

  

 

improving water quality in our local community

Town of Sandwich, MA

Rich Claytor, P.E., President and Sam Jensen, P.E., Engineer for the Town of Sandwich were featured in an August 11 U.S. EPA Soak Up the Rain New England Series webinar entitled Clean Water on the Cape: Green Infrastructure in Sandwich and Yarmouth, MA.

The goal of the Sandwich project is to reclassify the harbor as fully approved for shellfishing. To achieve this, the Town and HW staff launched a multi-year Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration effort funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and CPR FY19 and FY20 grants.

The project led to the design, permitting, and installation of multiple bioretention and linear swale systems along the Town Neck Beach parking lot and Boardwalk Road, as well as three underground infiltration chambers, and four porous pavement and sand filter systems in the surrounding neighborhoods. These stormwater systems not only target bacteria in stormwater runoff from nearby parking lots, roads, and driveways, but also treat nitrogen and other stormwater pollutants, and reduce flooding.

EPA’s Soak Up the Rain is a stormwater public outreach and education program to raise awareness about the costly impacts of polluted stormwater runoff and encourage compliance with stormwater rules and requirements through nature-based solutions such as green infrastructure and low impact development.

Project Partners & Funding: Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project, Town of Sandwich, USDA, CZM, Cape Cod Conservation District, State of MA

Image provided by USGS

 Image provided by USGS

   Image provided by USGS

  

 

A rain garden guide for homeowners

By: Michelle West, P.E.

Michelle is a senior water resources engineer with more than 18 years of professional experience. With a background in both engineering and natural resources, she is passionate about using her skills to restore the natural world while improving the human experience.

Before we get started,  a few questions.

  • Have you joined the rain garden craze yet? 
  • Have you been inspired by an article, your neighbor’s rain garden, or our Rain Garden Wednesdays social media posts?
  • Want to do your part to improve your local water quality and wildlife habitat?

It’s easier than you think!

The two illustrations above, right show how “breaking the impervious chain” slows, cleans and reduces the stormwater leaving a site.

The bottom photo shows Michelle leading a rain garden workshop at Walton’s Cove in Hingham, MA.

What is a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are actually very simple.  They are just shallow depressions – too shallow to even call a hole! – with plants.  But, rain gardens are not just isolated depressions placed randomly out in a yard.  They are specifically sized and placed to absorb stormwater runoff, the water that flows from your built impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, roads, parking lots, and even compacted lawn areas when it rains.  And that’s it!  Well, not quite, since rain gardens do take a bit of planning and physical labor, which we will get to in a bit.

 

 

   Why a Rain Garden?

What’s so bad about stormwater runoff?  Why all the fuss?  It’s just rainwater straight from the sky – isn’t that natural? 

Unfortunately, no.  All of those impervious surfaces that we built for our shelter and transportation prevent the clean rainwater from soaking into the ground like it did before we developed the land.  Dirt, fertilizer, soaps, oils, metals, and even animal poop build upon these hard surfaces and get carried away with the stormwater.  In addition to creating water pollution, when your runoff joins up with your neighborhood’s runoff, it can cause flooding and erosion, damage infrastructure, degrade aquatic ecosystems, and close shellfishing areas and beaches.  While runoff from just your home or business may not cause much of a problem, the cumulative impact from everyone’s home and business really does.

Rain gardens are one beautiful way to break the impervious chainof roof to downspout to driveway to road to stream, pond, or bay.  They use soils and plants to filter pollutants and help water soak in rather than runoff.  Please remember that rain gardens are NOT ponds or wetlands – they should drain in less than 24 hours after a rainfall. 

Download the file below to create one at your house!

 

Cross-section of a typical rain garden:

  

 

Click to Download: How to Build a Rain Garden

 

  

Ben Wollman

Environmental Scientist

Ben Wollman has joined our Sandwich office as an Environmental Scientist focused on wetlands and ecology. Ben earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural and Environmental Systems from Cornell University and is a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner. He comes to HW with 12+ years of professional experience working in professional consulting, design, and research and ecological restoration oversight. He has worked in PA, NY, and most recently MA. Ben will be working with our ecologists and other technical staff to support our wetlands-wildlife assessments and permitting projects.

Ben loves to spend time outside, enjoying activities like hiking, kayaking, birding, swimming, camping, snowboarding, hunting, and fishing. A naturalist by nature, and inspired by environmental icons like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and E.O. Wilson, Ben is passionate about maintaining and facilitating healthy individual and societal connections to the ecosystems that sustain us all. Ben and his wife have been living on the Cape since 2015 with their incredibly cute and smart pup (Rowan – he’s 14 years old and going strong)! Welcome, Ben!

 

steve stanish, p.e., CFM, ENV SP

Project Engineer

Steve Stanish has joined our Boston office as a project engineer with a background in both the public and private sectors. Steve received his Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois -Chicago and his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He joins HW with 11+ years of experience specializing in stormwater management design and is a certified engineer in several states, a certified flood plain manager, and an Envision Sustainability Professional in MA. He also has experience in transportation engineering and design.

In his spare time, he is currently renovating his home which he has described as HGTV outtakes! Steve also is an avid ultimate frisbee player, homebrewer, and woodworker. When not traveling for frisbee tournaments on the weekends, he is typically in Boston working on brewing new beers or building furniture for his home.

 

Lori Kennedy, p.e., ENV SP

Senior Project Manager

Lori Kennedy is a water resource engineer and project manager with a diverse background in municipal engineering, policy, stormwater management, integrated planning, modeling, and community engagement.  We are pleased to welcome her to our growing Boston office!  Lori earned her Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Davis, and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Environmental Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA. Among other roles, Lori will be supporting our MS4 clients in meeting all aspects of their MS4 permit requirements. Lori grew up in Vermont and enjoys hiking, gardening, and exploring nature with her two children.

 

Saipan, CNMI

Meet: Josephine Ibanez

Brian A. Laverriere, Project Designer

Josephine is an environmental scientist specializing in water resource management, water quality monitoring, and site remediation.  Jo’s passions include exploring new areas (both geographically and scientifically), helping communities understand their local water quality challenges, and developing water resource management strategies.

Last month, Jo and I had the opportunity to travel to Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Our team mapped drainage infrastructure, assessed sources of pollution, and identified key opportunities for restoration within the Achugao, Garapan, and Lao Lao Bay Watersheds. 

The trip was awesome for so many reasons.  Jo reminded me every day that what we do is significant – but who we work with is equally as important– and most important of all is the health, safety, and welfare of people. This was my first time working closely with Jo; hearing her perspective reminded me of how critical our development decisions are in 2020 and that our purpose in Saipan is larger than ourselves.

We inventoried age-old infrastructure from WWII, observed active construction today, and saw evidence of our future demand on the land.  Jo made me think: what will happen to these natural waterways we’re mapping?  Will they vanish inside of a pipe?  Or can we integrate these natural resources and sustain the natural identity of Saipan?  While abroad, we talked with residents who told stories from decade ago, collaborated with consultants who shared our same concerns, and met with federal agencies to ensure our decision-making process fit the priorities of the people and the place.

Project Summary:

All three watersheds are impaired, exceeding one or more CNMI water quality standards.  Five HW’ers traveled to Saipan to assess each watershed and to identify solutions for land-based sources of pollution.  Our project team consists of environmental scientists, civil engineers, planners, and landscape architects.  Sponsored by NOAA and the CNMI Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, we worked closely with Koa Consulting LLC, Sea Change Consulting, and The Nature Conservancy to engage local agencies and organizations. We collected field data and mapped drainage infrastructure linking flow-patterns with key opportunities to improve water quality.  Our field teams and workshop facilitators gathered hundreds of data points; produced dozens of restoration concepts; and identified watershed management priorities, challenges, and visions.

Over the coming months, we will draft watershed management plans to integrate different stakeholder’s priorities (e.g., on-going capital improvements, restoration efforts, road upgrades) to balance economic growth with environmental integrity.  Based upon our field assessment, the community engagement process, and stakeholder listening sessions, we will prioritize potential solutions to mitigate future development, restore degraded landscapes, and manage contributing drainage areas.  As a result of this work, we hope federal and local agencies can implement these watershed solutions to one-day meet the CNMI water quality standards.

HW Project Team:

Brian A. Laverriere, Project Designer
Josephine Ibanez, Environmental Scientist
Eliza Hoffman, Staff Engineer
Brian Kuchar, P.E., RLA, Principal Landscape Architect
Anne Kitchell, Senior Watershed Planner

Project Partners:

The Nature Conservancy-Micronesia
-Berna Gorong 
Sea Change Consulting
-Meghan Gombos
KOA Consulting LLC
-Becky Skeele & Rob Jordan
Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality
-James Benavente

NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
-Robbie Greene


Read about this project in the Saipan Tribune