Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan: Integrating sea level rise into regional plans

Jennie Hoffman
Posted on: 2/19/2017 - Updated on: 8/24/2023

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

The Cape Cod Commission, established in 1990, is charged with furthering conservation, balanced economic growth, water quality protection, provision of adequate capital facilities, development of adequate fair affordable housing, and preservation of coastal resources and historical, cultural, archaeological, architectural, and recreational values. The Commission adopted a Regional Policy Plan in 1991 to guide land use throughout the county; the plan is reviewed and amended as needed at least every five years.

In the 2012 amendment, sea level rise is reflected throughout in both minimum performance standards and best development practices. The plan acknowledges that projected sea level rise will increase flooding, storm surge, and erosion that threaten coastal infrastructure, habitats, and communities, and that coastal planning will require spatial design. For example, the plan requires that new development or redevelopment not impede the landward migration of coastal habitats (e.g., beaches, dunes, salt marshes). It also requires that new buildings be elevated above Base Flood Elevation, and that setbacks from coastal banks are calculated at least 70 times the average annual erosion rate to protect residential coastal structures. 


Hoffman, J. 2017. Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan: Integrating sea level rise into regional plans. Summary of a project of the Cape Cod Commission. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated February 2017)

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Affiliated Organizations

The Water Resources staff provides technical expertise in water-related matters for the Commission, its staff, and the 15 Cape Cod towns. This includes regulatory reviews, planning projects, and technical projects for towns and the region. Staff members also coordinate water resource activities with federal, state, regional, and local agencies. The activities support the region-wide goal for Cape Cod's water, which is articulated in the Regional Policy Plan:


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