2006-05-18 / Front Page

Council okays condo water hookups

By Dotti Farrington

An application for expanded use of an old building on Narragansett Avenue was approved by the Town Council, sitting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners, Monday night.

The councilors gave their permission with the stipulation that the new 16 condominiums to be created will use no more water than the existing 10 apartments. The limitation was based on specifications in the town's water regulations for changed or expanded uses of existing waterline connections. The specified limit will be 164,000 gallons a year, the highest water use at the property among each of the past three years.

The application was made by Raymond and Karyne Bazzano, new residents of Jamestown, who last month submitted it on behalf of their Preston Real Estate firm of Boston, which owns the century old apartment house at 10 Narragansett Ave. The Bazzanos said the renovation there will add 800 square feet for six more bedrooms in the building.

The real estate firm presented preliminary plans to the Planning Commission a few months ago. They also are planning similar reconstruction and expansion at 24 Narragansett Ave., Raymond Bazzano told the board Monday. He wanted to know if they would get a larger water allowance if they razed the existing structure and built anew instead of renovating what was there. He was advised that the water allowance would not increase.

Bazzano also asked about new multi-family construction elsewhere, what the water hookup factors might be, and if changes in the water regulations would be appropriate. The councilors said they might review such possibilities. Bazzano also wanted to know if more generous water limits be applied to 10 Narragansett Ave. if water regulations were changed. He was told that he could ask that question if the regulations are changed. His inquiries this week covered water uses for various projects, and the councilors more than once asked for discussion to stay focused on 10 Narragansett Ave., the only project for which an application was pending.

Puzzling math

Bazzano wanted the board to agree that the six bedrooms could use at least 88,000 more gallons a year to operate, while his representatives predicted saving nearly 1 million gallons of water through water conservation devices. The big difference in numbers raised several questions during last month's presentation.

Council Vice President Julio DiGiando said Monday the "numbers are puzzling." He noted, "We need to be cautious."

The applicant this week relinquished that claim about spectacular water savings, apparently conceding that a million gallons of water cannot be saved where only 164,000 gallons are used.

The councilors had staff research the status of retrofit water fixtures, and how that might be a factor in considering the impacts of the new construction. The municpal water regulations state that any new use or expansion of an existing property cannot use more than the highest total of the past three years, which was 164,000 gallons in 2003 for that property.

The councilors also had staff get actual water-use figures for two other condos on the island to use as guidelines rather than to rely on speculative figures provided by the developer. The copuncilors noted that the conversion would provide much needed fire safety devices for the property. This week they focused on the basic rule that the water maximum is set by the property's record of use and not by any comparative use considerations.

The staff study showed that other condos, all with clothes and dish washers, use about 25,000 gallons per unit per year. Bazzano wanted to use the condo comparative figures for approval of such water allowances for his units.

Bazzano had noted a belowmarket purchase plan for some of the condos to meet the needs of existing tenants. It was emphasized, however, that the project would not meet government guidelines for affordable housing.

Bazzano complained that Jamestown's municipal water district has rules based on oneor two-family uses of properties, and none for multi-family developments, which the town would like to encourage for affordable housing, for which some compromises might be possible.

Town Solicitor Lauriston Parks said that if Bazzano plans to use more than 164,000 gallons of water a year, "you can't have the connection."

The councilors reviewed other similar applications in the past. They noted that last year a change of use proposal by George and Eirene Dolos for their commercial property at 23 Narragansett Ave. fell by the wayside over the water-limit regulation. The councilors praised the status of water use at Slice of Heaven at 32 Narragansett Avenue, where owners Steve and Maria Liebhauser have instituted several water conservation methods to stay within the maximum water limit for their property. Councilors also noted that the new Jamestown Place condos, which supplement its town water with two wells, have water limits included in deed restrictions.

Parks and the councilors said any violation of the maximum that is monitored quarterly would result in a water shut-off. That aspect led to Bazzano's inquiry if he must install separate meters for each of the 16 condos. He was advised that he must or all occupants would face a shut-off if one caused the maximum to be violated.

Bazzano was also told he could assign whatever maximums he wished to each of the 16 units, as long as the total does not exceed 164,000 gallons a year.

The vote on his application was 4-1, with Councilman Michael Schnack recusing himself because he had a business association with Bruce McIntyre, Bazzano's lawyer.

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