Land Court Ruling Allows Dennis to Move Forward with Veterans Home

DENNIS – Work will begin to move forward in Dennis on its plan to build a home for veterans after a Land Court judge ruled in favor of the town last month.

An abutter to the proposed Route 134 home near Route 6A, Thomas Walsh, claimed the planning board did not have the authority to issue a special permit for the project.

Judge Howard Speicher ruled the town successfully demonstrated the abutter’s claims of harm were either unsubstantiated or not protected issues under the zoning bylaw.

The Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center will own and operate the five-bedroom home, which was approved by town meeting voters in 2016. The home will serve homeless veterans in need of transitional housing or those living below the poverty line.

Town Planner Dan Fortier said preconstruction work began this week.

“The corner bounds will be put in on the property finally and there is a ridge line that we will stay off of to protect of erosion that will be staked at the same time,” Fortier said. “And hopefully the footprint of the house will be staked out by Monday as well.

The extent of the site work will be limited to preconstruction, or things that can be done without putting down a foundation, as Walsh still has the ability to appeal the judge’s decision.

The town applied for a building permit Thursday, which will allow a construction sign to be placed on the property.

“We may also take a few trees down in order to improve the visibility of the site so people have an idea when they drive down Route 134 that there will be this project on that piece of property,” Fortier said.

Fortier said there is a need for the home as one-third of the region’s homeless have connections to the military. Recent census data showed about 132 veterans are living in Dennis below the poverty line.

“The goal is to provide some level of housing that will help these folks who have given everything they can to us a place to live safely,” Fortier said. “Hopefully we create a stable environment that lets some folks who may have suffered traumatic situations or issues while defending our country an opportunity to live safely while they get on their feet.”

There are also a large number of veterans who find themselves homeless due to illness towards the end of their life.

“The house will provide housing for them as well,” he said. “So while some people there maybe people transitioning into the work world there may be other people there where this becomes their final home before they move into a nursing home or something.”

Fortier said they hope to have construction finished by Veterans Day.

The town continues to work to pull together donations from the community.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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