Much is happening in Truro and the region. This will be a long post, but worth the read. We are writing now in preparation for the many questions that will arise as warmer weather approaches. It has taken a while for procedures and regulations to stabilize, and now is a good time to bring things up to date.
Most important, dear Friends, we hope you are well and safe wherever you are.
- COVID-19 IN TRURO – The Town of Truro and for the most part, residents here now, have been serious in informing and conforming to recommended COVID-safe practices. It has benefitted the town so far: In Truro itself, as of April 21, 2020, Truro has had 9 cases of COVID-19 reported, representing a state-established “comparison rate” of 400 persons per 100K population. Provincetown has had 25 cases, representing a rate of 687 cases per 100K population, and Wellfleet has 4 reported cases with negligible rate so far. Provincetown has had several deaths among elderly residents.
Since in Truro we all rely on services and goods travelling county-wide, it is useful to know that as of April 21, the MA Department of Public Health reports there have been a total of 672 positive cases of COVID-19 and 21 deaths in Barnstable County. Based on the Cape Cod Times interactive reports, this represents an increase of nearly 100 cases in less than a week. Notably, “Barnstable County continues to anticipate an increase in positive COVID-19 cases across the region over the next week to two weeks.“ Both the CC Times link above and Barnstable County have excellent links; Barnstable County’s link is provided here to keep up-to-date.
The State has issued many orders affecting life here, ordering:
- All non-essential business to close until May 4th
- Limited markets, stores, and pharmacies with maximum occupancy of 25 or more persons to no more than 40% percent capacity at any one time (including customers and employees), and if line forms outside, to ensure customers are maintaining appropriate distance from each other.
- Banned the use of re-usable bags and in-store bottle redemption
- Banned short-term rentals unless the rentals are for health care workers or other essential workers, until at least May 4th (more on this below)
- TO COME OR NOT TO COME – There has been some noise in the local press about “part-timers” being unwelcome on the Cape. That is not the case in Truro. The Town and townsfolk recognize that we have right and reason to be here, and at the same time, ask that we respect and comply with COVID-safe practices as any resident here is expected to.
This decision is significant and is up to you to decide. If you are in Truro, or think you will come to Truro as the season approaches, we recommend that you first and foremost ask this question: How would you like your neighbors to conduct themselves now? Then, act accordingly.
We recommend that all part-timers use common sense and mutual respect as our guides. We offer these recommendations to help you decide:
- Come only if YOUR safety is at risk where you are now. This is not a time here or anywhere for recreation or vacation. It is, for the moment, a place of shelter. If you need shelter here for your safety, then come – or stay if you are here already. But if you are safe where you are, we recommend that you stay where you are for the near-term.
- Understand the local conditions before you come. The Cape’s hospitals are prepared to handle the normal flow of medical needs for the current winter population and current resources can handle current cases. In total, Cape Hospitals have about 50 ICU beds; medical supplies are limited; and basic supplies are limited as well. In other words, resources are limited and can be easily overwhelmed by an influx. There is no place to go except outside for walks, as most restaurants, stores, and service providers are closed (TPRTA has a link to those that are open on our website). Those that are operating are on pre-paid, pre-packaged “curbside” pickup basis only. Many local tradespeople will only work in homes if they are vacant and will not enter owner-occupied homes, so being here gets in the way or repairs and clean-ups.
- If you come, please stay. Travel is a major vector of transmission, so please do not travel back and forth.
- Bring what you need with you. The Outer Cape (from Orleans to P’town) has adequate, basic supplies for a winter population but is in no way prepared or preparing for a seasonal influx at this time, much as most businesses wish otherwise. It is uncertain if gearing up will happen anytime soon. (Note toilet paper, paper towels, and sanitizer/gloves/masks are in very short supply.) This means you will need to bring masks and gloves with you as well as the provisions you need for 2-4 weeks, minimum.
- When you arrive, self-quarantine for 14 days minimum. This means no physical contact with persons living outside your home. This is now the law in MA. Please be advised that the Health Agent has the right to inspect any home that is reported to be violating this requirement.
- Develop a new appreciation for the meaning of “6 feet.” For most of us, it is a bit more than the span of our arms spread wide. In store aisles and the woods, this can be a challenge when these are sometimes less than two feet wide. New precautions and courtesies are evolving here as a result.
- Give up the idea of rentals. On March 31, the State issued rental guidelines barring short-term rentals until further notice. Owner occupancy of residences is unaffected. More on this below. We do not have a crystal ball, but we do not anticipate an active rental season this summer.
- And guests, too. While not barred, it is not smart or respectful of your own or your neighbor’s health to have guests for short visits, at least until the COIVD-19 emergency is lifted in Massachusetts. We already have alarm bells ringing about homes that have 4 or 5 cars in the driveway that, worse still – come and go.
- If you are here or come here, please be prepared to be helpful and generous. Folks of every stripe are seriously affected by this pandemic and in a seasonal economy are at peril if the “season” fails. For this reason, we ask those of us who are here, are healthy, and are able to help their neighbors to do so. There are a couple of way to do that: Good Neighbor | Truro which TPRTA is hosting, is a new volunteer group that provides mail, food, small shopping and other essential services for those who cannot or should not leave their homes in Truro. More on GN-T below and other ways to help are below.
- SHORT-TERM RENTALS – BARRED BY THE STATE UNTIL MAY 4th, AT LEAST
- On March 31, the State issued rental guidelines barring all short-term rentals until at least May 4th, unless these rentals are for health care workers or other essential workers. Short-term rentals a are defined as rentals for 31 days or less. The Town is actively enforcing this regulation and will issue a cease and desist order to any non-complying residence. Owner occupancy is unaffected. For details on the State regulations, see this link.
- These regulation are quite clear: while this Order is in effect “the provision and occupancy of lodging for leisure, vacation, and other purposes may not continue.” Further, persons with agreements to rent after March 31 “may not exercise those agreements and may not occupy those lodgings” and operators of rental lodging “may not provide” rental lodging or future agreements for rental lodging while this is in effect, unless such use is for “essential” purposes.
- If you agreed and transacted to rent your property prior to March 31, these are the conditions that apply:
- If the short-term rental was occupied before March 31, the agreement may be honored but may not be extended.
- If the short-term rental occupancy was to start after March 31, owners are prohibited from renting until the short term rental restrictions are lifted by the Governor.
- If an agreement for an entire summer rental (32 days or more) was made and transacted for occupancy to begin after March 31, the owner may fulfill that agreement but the renters must, by law, quarantine for the full 14-days.
- Campgrounds are considered seasonal short-term rentals and are closed until the short term rental restrictions are lifted by the Governor. The Town is awaiting additional guidance from the State on this subject and anticipates that, when the Governor’s ban is lifted, campground operators will also have to inform the Town about COVID-safe practices (e.g. social distancing, sanitizing, etc).
- Regardless of political persuasion, Governors in the Northeast are taking a very cautious approach to “re-opening” communities, notwithstanding the pressure here – as a tourism based economy – to re-open as soon as possible. In addition, visas are not available, so summer help is limited and that effects most Cape businesses during the summer population surge.
We expect that May 4th date projected to open the Massachusetts economy will be extended further and with it, short-term rental bans may likely be extended. With this in mind, we recommend if you rent for some or all of the summer, that you take down your listings for May and June and re-evaluate after the July 4th weekend. We have no crystal ball – just a sense of lie on the ground – so use your own best judgement about whether to offer rentals anytime later this season. We realize this will be another hardship for many.
- HELPING OUR TRURO COMMUNITY
- Good Neighbor | Truro – Many individuals and organizations operated by Truro-ites have joined together to help those in Truro who cannot or should not leave their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we have started an initiative that offers free pickup and delivery of mail and of prepared, packaged and pre-paid food and other essential items on weekdays and at other times by special request. Folks who need this help can make requests online, by email and phone. Volunteers can register online.
TPRTA is hosting the online features of GN-T. Several other organizations are part of this community collaboration – OneTruro, Sustainable CAPE, South Hollow Spirits and Songmasters (owned by the co-founders of GNT). GNT is coordinating with Truro COA and Library and with the new Truro Community Kitchen. We have a good start on volunteers but can always use more, as requests are increasing. Be a Good Neighbor!
- Truro Community Kitchen. The new Truro Community Kitchen is run by volunteers, preparing food out Truro’s Box Lunch for pickup/delivery of free meals on Sundays, now benefitting more than 100 recipients. Truro Community Kitchen requests donations to cover the costs of food supplies. You can reach them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- LIFE IN TRURO BEFORE AND BEYOND COVID-19
- Town offices are closed, but they are working. Only the Transfer Station and the Safety facility are open to the public. The Town has done an excellent job (in our view) of keeping folks informed, presenting a balanced and accurate view of facts and attitudes, and is responsive. This is especially appreciated in these difficult times.
- Tax Payment Deadline Extended to June 1. Based on lour input and that of others, tax payment deadline has been deferred a month later than usual. In case you did not receive this by mail, here is the official notice.
- Selectboard, Board of Health and Conservation Commission meetings continue – and can be seen online at the Truro website. Remote participation in SB meetings, is now possible. Citizens can view the meeting on Channel 18 in Truro and on the web on Truro TV Channel 18. Click on the green “Watch” button in the upper right of the page.
To call in:
United States (Toll Free): 1-866-899-4679
United States: +1 (571) 317-3117
Access Code: 289-344-837
Other committees are not holding meeting at this time. For details on committee activity now, see this link.
- New Dates for Annual Town Meeting, Annual Election and Pre-Town meeting – Due to COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, these Truro public events were postponed. New dates are TENTATIVELY set for:
- ATM on June 23 – Warrant will include only budget + finance-related articles. The meeting will be in a phgysical space – the site and method will be announced shortly.
- Town Elections on June 30 – Absentee and mail-in voting will be used without explanation. Procedures will be announced shortly.
- Cloverleaf Project | Wastewater Concerns Partially Addressed
When we last wrote, alarms had been raised by numerous concerned citizens about the high potential for negative environmental impact that could result from the proposed Cloverleaf Project wastewater treatment plan for the affordable housing project slated for Highland Road off Route 6. These expressed concerns had a positive effect in two ways: first, the developer subsequently agreed to implement a “IA” wastewater treatment feature on the property as part of the developers’ costs; and the ZBA listened carefully to the data and information presented by many about the health and safety risks, obtained an expert review of the matter and extended public hearings as a result. These will resume when the ZBA meets again. This expert report supported the concerns raised by citizens and further questioned the number of units permissible on the site, suggesting a reduction from the proposed 40 units may be warranted.
- February Special Town Election | Select Board Vacancy Filled by Stephanie Rein
On November 12, 2019, Truro unexpectedly lost Select Board Member Maureen Burgess. Her death created a vacancy in more than the Select Board, for she was a rare treasure in Truro, a fair, open-minded and hard-working advocate for the entire Truro community.
At the Special Town Election on February 18, 2020, Voters selected Stephanie Rein, an advocate and leader in the sustainability efforts in Truro and a leading member of the High Dunes cannabis cooperative. We appreciate that two candidates ran for this position and that the second candidate, Karen Tosh, continues to serve us on the Planning Board. We wish Stephanie all success in her new role and expect she will bring the same intelligence, curiosity and open-mindedness she has shown in her other ventures to her work on the SB as well.
- Speaking of the Planning Board
The PB has a new chair, Anne Greenbaum. Anne brings a wide perspective to the position, having been a former part-time resident and a more recent voter. The former chair, Steve Sollog, stepped down at his own request after many years in that position. He remains on the PB. We welcome Anne to the new role and thank Steve for his service in one of the toughest jobs in Town.
- Please check to see if you have renewed your TPRTA membership for 2020 – TPRTA is a year-round voice for the duverse views of more than 2000 “part-time” households in Truro. We want to make sure we hear from you, reflect your views accuratel, and act in your interests for your benfit and that of the entire Truro community. Our success depends on strong membership. You can join or renew your TPRTA membership by using the link here or by finding a paper form on our website or in a recent newsletter and mail to TPRTA | PO Box 324 | Truro MA 02666. Thank You!
Stay in Touch | Stay Informed
For more news and information, please go to the TPRTA website.
Continued thanks for all your emails and communications with TPRTA. We really appreciate hearing your perspective, ideas and suggestions. Keep them – and your questions – coming to email@example.com. Thank you!
PS Due to the unusual circumstances this year and our desire to get this to you timely, we will NOT be issuing a paper newsletter this Spring. We will keep you updated timely as and when new information comes to our attention.
Be well. Be safe.