2006-02-02 / News

Planning Commission to issue comprehensive permits

By Sam Bari

A proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment drafted by Town Solicitor Lauriston Parks was presented at the Jan. 18. meeting of the Planning Commission.

The ordinance change concerns all applications for comprehensive permits to build lowand moderateincome housing so they will be reviewed in accordance with the applicable provisions of Title 45, Chapter 53 of the Rhode Island General Laws, as amended in the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act.

The revision gives the Planning Commission the authority to issue comprehensive permits for lowand moderate-income housing projects, making the town consistent with the rest of the state. The Zoning Board of Review will no longer issues these permits.

In other new business, Town Planner Lisa Bryer presented the “2006 Planning Commission Work Plan — Discussion of 2005 Accomplishments and Action Items for 2006.”

“We are in year two of our approval of our action plan,” said Bryer. She then suggested that the commission review the high-priority, highlighted items in the document. These items list projects that have been completed, are ongoing works in progress, or are soon to begin.

The following is a comprehensive listing of the items that were reviewed:

• Continued updating of the Jamestown Recreation, Conservation and Open-Space plan every five years to include a priority list for shoreline acquisition and protection.

• Pursuit of outside funding for shoreline acquisition and protection.

• Creation of requirements for easements to the waterfront in appropriate subdivisions.

• Changes to the Zoning Ordinance to prevent development from impacting ground water and other natural resources.

• Using this guide to review and develop projects.

• Investigating a permit to allow assessment when historic features are involved or a building is slated for removal.

• Reviewing all development proposals and encouraging land to be desigatged as part of the island greenway system.

• Requiring, where appropriate, the construction of pedestrian and bicycle paths in new subdivisions, linking population bases as well as the village area.

• Review and consideration of amending the Zoning Ordinance for permitted uses in non-commercial zones and the conditions for granting special-use permits and variances to prevent commercialization of these zones.

• Working with the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce to attract desired businesses to commercial zones.

• Development of comprehensive development and management plans for East and West ferry, with special attention to maintenance of the working waterfront and resolution of user conflicts among boaters, fishermen, pedestrians.

• Using Development Plan Review variance and special-use permit provisions of the ordinance to retain the architectural character of commercial zones.

• Advising the Town Council on Economic Development issues by holding semi-annual workshops to discuss these issues with the chamber of commerce and interested citizens.

• Reviewing and amending the Zoning Ordinance to ensure permitted uses and other requirements are compatible with community character and will foster desired results.

• Developing a plan to encourage improvements to existing buildings that increase their compatibility with community.

• Be alert to changes in technology that require updating the Zoning Ordinance.

• Seeking opportunities to participate in other state and regional planning issues.

• Working with the state Department of Transport and town Department of Public Works to include bicycle lanes as part of state and town road upgrades, and as part of subdivision proposals.

• Forming an ad-hoc bikeways committee to develop a plan for a system of bicycle and pedestrian routes throughout the island.

• Requiring, where appropriate, the construction of pedestrian and bicycle paths in new subdivisions linking population bases as well as the village areas. • Investigating the use of innovative solutions for island transportation issues and traffic problems.

• Reviewing Section 312 of the Zoning Ordinance and amendmenting it to include street lighting.

• Purchasing or leasing by the town of at least one parcel for parking in the commercial downtown area.

• Considering an amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to include parking standards for all types of commercial businesses.

• Considering amending the Zoning Ordinances to ensure commercial parking is located within commercial zones.

• Working with the Harbor Management Commission to determine the parking responsibility for the town and the business community.

• Conducting a comprehensive downtown parking study that addresses current and future needs, including private lot usage.

• Reviewing the Zoning Ordinance and making amendments to facilitate affordable housing.

• Investigating the feasibility of accessory apartments as a method of providing affordable housing for immediate family needs.

In the Town Planner’s Report, Bryer mentioned that the town hall plans should soon be 90 percent completed. She said that she negotiated a shared parking agreement with St. Mathew’s church and that she anticipates reviewing the development plan on Feb. 15.

She also told the commission that the town has received $690,000 for Phase II of the Narragansett Avenue upgrade project, which will run from East Ferry to Grinnell Street. The work is scheduled to start two years after the completion of Phase I. The town is replacing waterlines in the spring, so construction of the sidewalks cannot begin until fall, with the second phase scheduled for the following spring, Bryer said.

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