Peddler license review continues
With more and more requests by vendors to set up shop in the East Ferry area, town councilors continued their review of Jamestown's peddlers' license policy on Monday.
In 1996, the Town Council voted to limit the number of seasonal peddler licenses on public property at East Ferry to no more than three. However, in recent weeks the demand for one-day peddler licenses has increased from retail sellers.
Summing up the issue, Council President David Long said "in a nutshell, we're getting more and more requests from profit-making businesses."
That was cause for concern for council members who agreed that the town needs to regulate peddler activity in the downtown area in order to protect local businesses from an unfair advantage posed by vendors and off-island businesses taking advantage of town resources.
Though councilors agreed that the issue needs to be addressed, they requested that Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero present recommendations to the council before any definitive policy is established.
Currently, three island businesses have seasonal licenses to operate in the East Ferry area: Lucky Ridge Company, LLC dba Spinnakers Café, Stearns Farms Organic Produce, and Freddie Bing's Hotdog Thing. In addition, Del's Lemonade and Munroe Dairy both have restricted licenses to service island customers through their mobile units. One-day licenses have also been granted in the past for special events and holiday weekends to local non-profits.
Councilors are expected to take up the issue again at their next regularly scheduled meeting.
Tax rate less than forecast
Jamestown taxpayers should be pleasantly surprised when they receive their tax bills. In May, the town estimated that the average tax rate would be $7.85 per $1,000 of assessed value. However, according to Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, after a recalculation of town revenue, that rate will actually be closer to $7.81 per $1,000 of assessed value.
"It's always good news when the tax rate goes down," Keiser re- marked.
Osprey viewing platform
There are plenty of hurdles the Conservation Commission will have to overcome in order to move forward with a proposed ospreyviewing platform on North Main Road, but Keiser reported that commissioners were determined to see the project completed.
According to Keiser, Conservation Commissioner Chris Powell reported that the commission had received a grant to obtain binoculars that would be installed on the platform that would be located at the town's water treatment facility property across from the osprey nest at Great Creek. Still, commission members will have to seek approval from the state before any plan is approved by the town and the project will have to wait until improvements to the town's water treatment facility are completed.
Teen Center improvements
Jamestown's teens can expect to begin using an improved teen center in conjunction with the beginning of the school year on Sept. 1. According to Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, improvements to the teen center had been delayed for several weeks due to trouble obtaining an asbestos removal contractor, however with asbestos remediation work complete, only electrical and carpentry work remain.
Keiser described the center's completion as a "priority project" and indicated that due to the overwhelmingly positive response by island teens to the town's teen program, the community center was once again being used as it was intended.
Councilman Julio DiGiando indicated that he had received complaints from Jamestown Shores residents over the proliferation of portable on-demand storage units in their neighborhood. Keiser indicated that similar concerns had been expressed by both zoning and planning board members and that the matter should be reviewed to determine if the temporary storage units were in violation of town zoning ordinances.
Shore tax sale lots subject of discussion
The town has begun the process of taking possession of dozens of tax sale lots on the island's north end for the purpose of open space preservation, however a lot of work still remains, according to town officials.
At the request of Councilman William Kelly, the town council discussed the process by which the town would be able to acquire land that has been deemed subject to tax sale. So far, the town has identified approximately 100 lots in the Jamestown Shores area alone, which are subject to foreclosure due to delinquent taxes, which in the vast majority of cases has not taken possession of those properties.
Kelly reported that he had met with former Town Solicitor Lauriston Parks, who has continued to represent the town in several ongoing tax sale cases since his replacement, in order to discuss how quickly the town could move on obtaining the subjected land. According to Kelly, Parks estimated that each case would take approximately one week to file and could take up to three months to complete. Town Solicitor Ruggiero agreed, adding that the process is mostly a matter of paperwork.
Councilors suggested that the town prioritize those lots that it could obtain either through donation or court process before it proceeded with a broad push. That shouldn't be too difficult considering that a recent survey conducted by the town and presented by Town Administrator Bruce Keiser details the island's undeveloped and tax sale subject land.
In other business, the town council also:
• Awarded a bid for road paving work to T. Miozzi, Inc. Roads scheduled for repaving include Stern St. (Helm to Cedar), Clinton Ave. (Narragansett to #42 and #62 to High St.), Spirketing St., Seaside #76 South to Terminus, Keel (Top o' Mark to Garboard), and North Main (Pole #124 to #129).
• Awarded a bid for new office furniture for the new town hall to W.B. Mason Co. for an amount not exceed $144,000
• Awarded a bid for professional surveying services for the town's farmland acquisition proposal to Northeast Engineers and Consultants, Inc. for a bid not to exceed $23,850.
• Continued until the next meeting, a request by Councilman Kelly to examine parking along the east side of Conanicus Ave. over resident complaints that mail delivery has been hindered due to cars obstructing mail boxes.