2007-01-04 / Front Page

Septic system application denied in Shores

By Dotti Farrington

The state Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Water Resources last month denied the Thurston application for 16 variances to build an individual septic disposal system for a two-bedroom house on a 7,000-square-foot lot in the environmentally fragile Jamestown Shores section of town.

The rejection was reported Friday by Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, who listed ongoing progress to protect the Shores’ ecological needs as a major accomplishment of the town and Shores officials during his first year as administrator here. Town residents and officials are working to soon present an update to the town’s groundwater protection ordinance. They are also working with state officials to strengthen state rules that impact ground water.

“The state advised me that they had found the Thurston application unacceptable,” Keiser reported in December. Town officials, including town councilors, working in co-operation with Jamestown Shores officials were preparing to discuss the local position on the Thurston application to the DEM.

David and Marina Thurston of Saunderstown have applied to install a septic system on Lot 12 on Seaside Drive and Frigate Street in Jamestown, near the town beach there. The Thurstons have been seeking a number of variances since 1998, according to the DEM. Their application was previously deemed unacceptable by DEM, but the Thurstons continued to submit variance proposals. At one point, the town failed to give required notice to the Thurstons that the council would be discussing their application, and the Thurstons won a court order preventing the town from commenting on that application pertaining to a freshwater wetland on the property.

The Jamestown Shores Association, currently under the leadership of Charlotte and F. John Zarlengo, have monitored the state involvement and alerted town officials when they believed town actions and objections to the application were needed.

Last month, the Zarlengos updated the Town Council on the need for the town to file objections again. “The applicant is requesting many variances on this small, environmentally sensitive wetland. As abutters, as well as members of the Jamestown Shores Association, we have worked tirelessly with the town, our state representative, and our state senator to develop rules and policy to protect the fragile environment in the Shores. Approval of this (Thurstons) ISDS would be an affront to all of us,” they said.

They noted that an earlier objection to a wetlands application on the same property was negated by the court action by the applicants, after what the Zarlengos called a “royal screw up” by local officials who did not meet procedural requirements. The Zarlengos said it would be “unconscionable” that the Thurston proposal continue when the Shores area is experiencing so many environmental problems, they said. The ISDS application is separate from the wetlands application the Thurstons filed.

The variances requested involved distances, a well, septic system, property lines and the site plan, including a proposal to create a five-foot mound of earth in the center of the lot to enable the ISDS to be above the water table. The lot also is known to have a ledge, compounding the lot’s other problems. The Zarlengos asked that development of the lot be blocked “once and for all.” They noted that a culvert connected to West Passage of Narragansett Bay exists from the lot, and they were concerned about the ability to use that culvert from the Thurston lot.

The councilors agreed to schedule a discussion for Jan. 22 so they could meet requirements for notifying the Thurstons of their intended discussion. Local officials now need to determine if the DEM rejection of the Thurston application negates need for the council discussion at this time

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