New England's First Smart Growth Community
In 1962, long before “sustainability” was part of the lexicon of real estate development, New Seabury’s founders pursued their vision of a year-round and summer resort community comprised of a group of residential neighborhoods – “villages” – each with its own distinctive character and lifestyle. An open space network of greenbelts, woodlands, golf courses, and waterways would thread among these neighborhoods serving as the chief organizing principle of the new community, visually separating the villages while also knitting them together into a cohesive community in which residents can walk or cycle from one village to the next, to the beach, to the Popponesset Inn for dinner, or to the Marketplace for a quart of milk or loaf of bread.
In order to implement their vision of a self-contained mixed-use community (now we recognize it as New England’s first “smart growth” community) the founders of New Seabury convinced the Mashpee town fathers to adopt a newly created zoning bylaw that permitted “cluster development” on the 1240-acre Great Neck peninsula. This novel bylaw, the first of its kind in New England, allocated up to three housing units and 870 square feet of commercial space to each acre within the community; while at the same time abandoning all minimum lot area, yard setback, and height restrictions. Under cluster zoning New Seabury was allowed to grow and evolve organically. Neighborhoods (villages) were built on the land most suited to development and roads follow the naturally rolling topography while environmentally sensitive areas such as salt ponds, coastal marshes, inland wetlands, and estuaries were preserved or protected. Freed from the strictures of traditional zoning, land at New Seabury was used far more efficiently: single-family homes are clustered closely together on relatively small lots, patio homes are tightly grouped in a zero-lot-line village overlooking the vast open space of a golf course, townhomes line expansive fairways, and a seaside neighborhood reminiscent of an old New England fishing village affords hundreds of families access to a beautiful stretch of Nantucket Sound beach.
Nearly a half-century later, the underlying principles guiding development at New Seabury are little changed. Efficient use of land continues to be an overarching goal of Bayswater Development as is respect for the paradigm of distinctive neighborhoods offering lifestyle and amenity options that appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers, whether they are avid golfers eager to play New Seabury’s two magnificent courses, “second generationers” seeking to recapture the Cape Cod experiences of their childhood with their own children, or active retirees enjoying the convenience of a community where shopping, restaurants, and recreational opportunities comfortably coexist.
At New Seabury on Cape Cod Bayswater Development is the 21st Century heir to a precedent-setting land plan and community vision that is now widely recognized as “sustainable design.” As it develops the community’s final “villages,” Bayswater is enthusiastically embracing its responsibility to preserve New Seabury’s unique heritage as well as its obligation to modernize New Seabury’s sustainable vision. Since acquiring New Seabury in 1998, Bayswater has converted the golf cart fleet from fossil fuels to electric power, built a tertiary wastewater treatment plant to serve all new development, placed conservation restrictions on acres of land, and adopted “green” building principles. In twenty years, New Seabury will be looked upon as a landmark development where, despite seven decades of changing tastes and family lifestyles, careful stewardship by the developer has preserved the community’s desirability and value…the true measure of sustainable design.