Council tells harbor commission to revise mooring fee schedule
The town councilors by consensus Tuesday declined to adopt the mooring fee schedule recommended by the Harbor Management Commission, advising the commission to distribute the proposed fee increases more evenly and return to them with a revised proposal as soon as possible.
The councilors also asked Town Administrator Bruce Keiser to take all possible actions to speed the turnover of the town offices site at 44 Southwest Ave. to the Church Community Housing Corp. of Newport to develop as affordable housing. Keiser reported that Newport Appraisal has been hired to prepare a market-value appraisal, expected by the end of March.
William Munger, owner of Conanicut Marine Services, suggested that the town consider using the site for mixed business and residential use that would represent the highest and best use to set a market value for the benefit of water customers. The town will pay the municipal water department the market value of the property, which will be used to offset water customer rates. Those rates, currently being reviewed by a consultant, include debt service for major water-system improvements and a new water treatment plant.
Keiser said the market value will reflect the site's location in a commercial district, assuring a maximum possible value. He also said the town needs to provide as much affordable housing as possible. He said a mixed-use at Southwest Avenue would limit that goal.
Sitting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners, the councilors declined to waive a $100 penalty fee as requested by Richard Jones, a summer resident who owns property at 7 Hull Cove Rd. Jones was penalized because the plumber he hired did not have the house inspected for low-flow water conservation items, as required by the current water regulations. The councilors said the board's policy is that the property owner is responsible for being in compliance with the water regulations, and they have no power to waive any fees.
In other business, the commissioners accepted requests for further continuations of the applications by Stephen Masso for a water connection at 15 Weeden Lane; and by Frank Henderson for water and sewer connections at 27 Luther St.
They also approved a $30,000 contract for Pare Engineers of Lincoln to design a spillway for South Pond and to monitor seepage at the dam at North Pond reservoir. Town Engineer Michael Gray said neither pond spillway or dam was in critical condition, but South Pond needed maintenance work. The North Pond seepage was considered minor but needs monitoring, he said. The town would decide whether to do the South Pond work in-house or by a contractor based on the design and findings of the Pare Engineers, which are due in three months, Gray said.