2006-03-23 / News

Planning panel discusses zoning updates

Commission elects new officers
By Michaela Kennedy

The Planning Commission voted on new officers and committee appointments at its March 15 meeting, and also talked about considerations for updating the Zoning Ordinance.

The commission voted to send correspondence to the Town Council on new committee liaison appointments. The commission elected Commissioner Victor Calabretta as the new vice chairman, and Commissioner Barry Holland as secretary. Chairman Gary Girard praised Calabretta for having done "a great job as secretary," noting that Calabretta had also filled in a number of times as chairman.

For liaison appointments, Commissioner Richard Ventrone volunteered to be liaison to the Harbor Management Commission, and newly appointed Commissioner Michael White volunteered for the Town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee.

Commissioner Jean Brown agreed to be liaison for the Traffic Committee, and Commissioner Betty Hubbard agreed to continue on the Ft. Getty Master Plan Committee.

In regard to an update of the Zoning Ordinance, Town Planner Lisa Bryer said that she, Town Building Official Fred Brown, and Town Engineer Michael Gray had discussed amendments to the ordinance that would help strengthen its effectiveness.

"Although we're not required to update it, as we work with it, we see things that need updating," Bryer said. She also noted that the building inspector worked more closely with the ordinance than she did, and would meet with him to discuss points that needed attention.

Bryer went over a list of items she suggested for review, as well as new initiatives in zoning, outlined in a memorandum from the planner to the commission. She pointed out some uses in dimensional tables of Section 3 that "need at least a perfunctory review."

According to the memo, the town is only required to make the ordinance consistent with the 2004 approved Comprehensive Community Plan update. "The most significant change of that update is the affordable housing provisions," the memo says.

Bryer mentioned affordable housing, saying, "I think there's a place in Jamestown for multi-family residences." She pointed out that it was not the use but the form of a structure that the ordinance should address. "It would be a great transitional use between commercial and residential zones," Bryer added.

Girard agreed. They should look at the concerns and issues that go along with multi-family or condominium development, he said.

Bryer suggested considering some policy decisions on parking. "If they're (parking variances) going to be routinely granted, then maybe we need to look at it," she said.

Regulations for signs, bed and breakfasts, and formula businesses were also on the list for review. "I must get at least two requests (on bed and breakfasts) every year on where they're allowed," the planner said.

Holland said that he noticed in other communities a trend toward bed and breakfasts spreading into residential areas. "Tourism is a major money-maker," he added.

On formula businesses, Bryer reminded the board of the possibility of chain stores moving onto the island. "If we want to keep places like East Ferry Deli and Slice of Heaven, we should consider how to regulate formula businesses," she warned.

Calabretta asked if the commissioners were comfortable with cell towers and asked if any regulations for them should be considered. Girard agreed that it was an issue that would keep coming up.

Girard asked the planner to put a discussion of the ordinance update on the agenda for the second meeting in April.

In the town planner's report, Bryer talked about the new design for Ft. Getty. The planner noted that the design would open the park for more residential use with almost the same amount of camping space. "The configuration will open up almost the whole waterfront. The improvements will really increase resident use. I think the campers will be happy, too," Bryer said.

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