2006-03-09 / News

Town Hall design approved by zoning board

By Sam Bari

The Zoning Board of Review unanimously approved the town application for variances and special use permits for the additions and renovations to the existing Town Hall at 93 Narragansett Ave.

Town Planner Lisa Bryer represented the town in their application that included requests for dimensional variances as well as a special-use permit for shared parking. Jamestown architect William Burgin presented the plans he designed for the new structure at the regular meeting of the board on Feb. 28.

To concentrate the footprint of the proposed building, the new addition will have two stories, making the structure 39 feet tall, 4 feet higher than the 35 feet limit set by the Zoning Ordinance. The adjacent church buildings on either side of the proposed building are higher than 35 feet. Board Vice Chairman Don Wineberg noted that his vote for approval of the dimensional variance hinged on the height of surrounding buildings being taller.

"I was a little nervous," Bryer said after the meeting. "I've never presented to the zoning board before. I anticipated the shared parking to be a problem, but after I explained our agreement with St. Matthew's church, things seemed to go smoothly," she said.

Nobody contested the application and the board approved the requests for the long anticipated town hall with little discussion after the detailed presentation given by Burgin and Bryer.

In another application before the board, John Eckert represented himself and his wife, Marianne, in a request for variance at their residence at 17 Howland Ave. Julia Gerald, designer from Jag Designs of Jamestown, presented for the applicant.

Due to a state of disrepair, the applicants want to tear down and reconstruct their garage. The structure will be the same size as the old garage and in the same location. They are asking that the east side setback be 2 feet where feet is required and the north setback be 8 feet seven inches where 15 feet is required.

The applicant also desires to improve the rear entry of the existing house by adding a bedroom, full bath, and a mudroom. They are asking that the side setback be 7 feet 9 inches where 15 feet is required. The requests were granted by a unanimous vote.

Attorney John Murphy represented Brian and Nannette Bryer in their request for a variance so they can build a single-family dwelling on their property on Prospect Avenue. The lot is located on a private road that is not an accepted town road. The size of the building is 51 feet deep by 67 feet wide.

Fred Brown, the town zoning enforcement officer, said that the residents must accept responsibility to maintain the road if they are to develop the property.

The zoning board granted the request with restrictions. The applicant will be responsible for maintaining and plowing the access road for emergency vehicles. Board Chairman Tom Ginnerty said he did not feel comfortable with the legalities of the jurisdiction of the zoning board for making a decision about the private road and voted against the motion to approve. The application passed by a 4-1 majority vote.

Represented by Attorney Peter Brockmann, AMS Development Corp. submitted a request for a special-use permit to build a single family dwelling on a vacant lot on Spindrift Street. Christopher Duhamel, from DiPrete Engineering of Cranston, presented for Steven Perry, the applicant. Duhamel is a civil engineer and land surveyor with 20 years experience. He is also licensed to design ISDS systems and has hundreds of systems to his credit. Owners of the property are Ann M. & Eileen Morris. The applicant, Perry, intends to construct a two-bedroom house with 1.5 baths on the clear and undeveloped property.

The parcel is a legal non-conforming lot located within the high groundwater table and impervious layer overlay district. Within this district, development requires a special-use permit.

Donna Cote, whose property is across from the applicant's lot, opposed the project. Donna Fishman, an additional abutter also objected to developing the property due to the closeness of the well and ISDS system. Despite the objections, the board granted the request by a unanimous decision.

During the decision making process for the AMS application, board member Richard Boren took a moment to explain to the attending audience the criteria involved in making decisions. "Our personal feelings are not involved in the decision making process," Boren said.

"We are bound by ordinances and laws that were passed by the Town Council at various times that dictate what is and is not permitted when applications for variances and special-use permits are presented to the board. If an applicant meets the criteria to be granted a permit, by law we are bound to approve the application. We cannot deny development just because we don't agree with the request. If you want the ordinances and laws changed, you must speak to the Town Council," Boren said.

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