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:

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



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!


Brian graves

GIS Manager

We are thrilled to have a new GIS guru on board and are equally enthusiastic about adding another Brian to the team (this brings us up to five!)  Brian earned a B.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Conservation from UMass, Amherst, and is currently working on a M.S. in User-Centered Design, from Brandeis University. Brian’s technical expertise in GIS, photography, graphics, mushroom inoculation, and permaculture is sure to be popular with staff and clients.

Brian grew up sailing in Buzzards Bay and likes to spend his free time on the water and relaxing with his family (three daughters) and his dog Shelley, a Cavalier King Charles, and their nine chickens! Welcome, Brian – we are delighted that you have joined the team!




veronica seward-aponte, e.i.t.

Environmental Engineer

Veronica Seward-Aponte has joined our environmental site assessment and remediation team as an Environmental Engineer. A recent Carnegie Mellon University graduate, Veronica earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 2019 and soon after, a M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a concentration in Climate Change Adaptation. Her experience mapping wildfires in California, building hydrological rain garden models in NYC, evaluating plastic bag environmental impacts, and creating carbon footprint trackers make her an ideal HW’er!  

Veronica is already busy working in the field collecting soil and groundwater samples and conducting site assessments of properties to determine if there are any hazardous materials concerns that could impact future development. When she is not working, Veronica can be found watching her favorite EPL football (soccer) team Manchester United or playing billiards. During her time at college, she taught a student course for the Pool Club and is also a tournament champion! Veronica is glad she convinced her 18-year-old cat, Goody to make the cross-country trip to the east coast as she is a warm and welcome reminder of home, and an excellent remote office companion.



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!



lena porell

Staff Planner

Lena Porell has joined our planning team as a Staff Planner. Lena has a Master of Science Degree in Urban Planning with a concentration in Community Development and Affordable Housing from the University of Arizona. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Studies, with a concentration in International Development and Education with a regional specialization in Africa from American University. Lena has experience with community engagement, graphic design, and GIS. She is currently working on the Reading Open Space Recreation Plan. In her spare time, Lena enjoys hiking, biking, and basically anything that will get her outside! She also loves to experiment with film photography and watercolor painting.

Welcome, Lena to the Providence, planning team!



green stormwater infrastructure

For Boston Parks & Recreation Department



HW and our teaming partner, Brown Richardson and Rowe, are honored to have collaborated with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) on the creation of the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Design and Implementation Guide. This team effort included invaluable contributions from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). We thank BPRD staff for their time, resources, and dedication to this document.


GSI in Boston Parks

Considered the city’s first GSI project, Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace park system passes through many Boston neighborhoods. Olmsted’s brilliant stormwater management system has connected people to nature for over 100 years and serves as a prime example of the importance of incorporating GSI into parks and vice versa.

The types of properties managed by the BPRD are diverse and vary by scale, use, age, and surrounding contexts and communities. They also represent many things to those communities such as places to gather, play, exercise, recreate, and connect with nature. Such an assorted set of public spaces creates challenges as well as opportunities to create multi-functional parks.


5-Steps to a multi-functional park

Based upon information gathered from other municipal agencies throughout the country, the Guide uses a five-step process to assist BPRD staff, partnering city agencies, and park consultants, with the design, implementation, and maintenance of GSI. This will create more resilient, multi-functional parks that maximize benefits to park users and the environment.  

Key steps that help accomplish this goal include: defining and re-defining GSI objectives, identifying the park contexts, understanding the site and the benefits and maintenance requirements of various GSI practices, and leveraging partnerships.

Collaborative Process

We worked closely with BPRD staff, using information from BWSC and TPL, to prioritize GSI implementation in parks in every neighborhood.  GSI can help reach city-wide environmental and equity goals by improving climate resiliency and livability and health through promoting rainwater reuse and recharge, adapting to increased flooding, reducing urban heat islands, connecting people to nature, increasing green spaces, and improving drainage, water and air quality, and habitat value in parks all over Boston!


Click here for an example of a practice page outlining considerations for designing GSI in parks.







HW Providence wins cnu charter award


The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) has awarded Horsley Witten Group, a Charter Award for A Strategic Vision for Panama City’s Historic Downtown and its Waterfront.

The Strategic Vision is a community plan which will direct future growth while also preserving the city’s history, culture, natural, and built assets. The project is part of the recovery from Hurricane Michael, which devastated the city in 2018. Ten cornerstone ideas span infrastructure, mobility, economic development, sustainability, and quality of life objectives.

HW staff led the resilient infrastructure plan elements, including coastal adaptability planning, sustainable urban design, and green stormwater infrastructure. Congratulations Jon Ford, P.E. and Ellen Biegert, RLA!

Learn more about the project here.


Project Partners: Dover, Kohl & Partners (lead), City of Panama City, Hagerty Consulting, Hall Planning & Engineering, Partners for Economic Solutions.

  Before and After: Homes Facing McKenzie Park

  Before and After: Harrison Avenue

Before and After: Harrison Avenue



All graphics by Dover, Kohl & Partners 

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