2007-09-13 / News

Tree preservation ordinance changes proposed

By Michaela Kennedy

The Planning Commission recommended approval of proposed amendments to the tree preservation ordinance last week. The commission also agreed to a schedule set up by the planning office for public discussions about general updates to the ordinance.

At its Sept. 5 meeting, the planning board listened to details given by Commissioner Michael White about the lack of a true appeal process in the town's tree ordinance. White mentioned friction between the former tree warden and the town. "The ordinance was so written that any appeals would be heard by the tree warden. We thought that was not right," he said.

Changes to the tree ordinance will take the power of hearing appeals of decisions made by the tree warden and place it in the hands of the Jamestown Tree Preservation and Protection Committee. The commission unanimously voted to forward the changes to the town council.

In a discussion about the downtown charrette slated for next month, Town Planner Lisa Bryer reported that a Web site for information and input about revamping the zoning ordinance was now online. The site has a mission statement which calls for engaging residents in a community conversation directed toward planning guidelines for downtown. An online survey is available to kick off the public discussion.

Also, a schedule of events designed to allow opportunities for input into the planning process is published on the site. "We are going to use more than just the standard press to get the word out," Bryer noted. "We will use connectors as a kind of public outreach."

Bryer explained that connectors were community leaders who spread the word to diverse residents to get them engaged in planning. "We collected names of people who may have an active interest or opinion," she said.

The Jamestown Connector meeting will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at the library. A following meeting, a community visioning workshop, is slated for Sept. 27 and is open to public. Bryer added that the charrette, a culminating series of public meetings, would be held the week of Oct 15. She urged all to begin participating by visiting online at jamestownvision.org.

In old business, applicant Martha Harris received a recommendation for approval on a proposed single home development on Bark Street and Seaside Drive. The development plan is in a high groundwater district. Commissioner Barry Holland moved to approve the plan, which passed with a vote of 4 to 1.

Commissioner Jean Brown encouraged leniency for the project since the footprint is 8.9 percent of a possible 13 percent maximum. Commissioner Richard Ventrone objected to the request, citing restrictive requirements in the zoning ordinance.

Chairman Gary Girard agreed with Brown, saying, "I think this is a project done as well as can be done."

The commission also discussed a request for relief to the setback for wetlands. Town Planner Lisa Bryer noted, however, that a recommendation would be made administratively and a vote was not needed by the board.

In new business, the commission unanimously approved a development plan, upon submission of requested revisions, for a single family home on Bark Avenue.

Mary Meagher, designer representing the applicants Anthony and Jacqueline Lampasona, introduced an overview of the plan, and explained that structural deficiencies required replacement of the existing home. "It's been a great summer house. But for year-round living, it would require too much renovation work," Meagher said.

David Dow, a designer from On-site Collaborative, presented a layout for a 6-inch deep rain garden that would provide drainage. Plants and the contour of the property would be used to control storm water runoff.

Town Solicitor Christopher Orton noted that jurisdiction of the rain garden would fall under the building inspector, just as any other drainage system controlled by the ordinance. "The town would maintain the right to regulate the garden," he said.

Also in new business, the commission agreed to continue a hearing for a proposed construction on North Main Road, due to the absence of the applicant.

In other business, Girard announced an opening for a planning liaison on the Harbor Management Commission. Richard Ventrone stepped down due to other commitments.

Commissioners Betty Hubbard and Victor Calabretta were absent.

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