Zoning tackled several major projects during the year
The Zoning Board of Review had a busy year in 2007, hanging tough on new construction in high groundwater and densely populated areas.
Often, the choices were not easy for the board, and applications were debated at length, some taking several meetings before decisions could be made. In the end, five homes were approved for construction, many with stringent restrictions. Some had to be redesigned to meet requirements for approval by the conservative panel.
The message, however, was clear: anyone wanting to build a home in a densely populated area of Conanicut Island had best "think small" if approval from the zoning board is desired. "The least amount of impact on the neighborhood and the environment" were the watchwords of the panel in almost every case. Applications for high groundwater areas were particularly difficult to get approved. Abutting property owners were always present to oppose construction, especially in the Jamestown Shores area.
Although five homes were given the green light for construction, five others were denied, mostly for reasons of impact on the area in one way or another.
The board had many other items to consider besides new construction of homes. The Jack's Electric building on Clinton Avenue has kept the zoning board and Planning Commission busy for over a year, and the matter is still not settled. The controversial Windridge Properties' project has barely passed muster with the Planning Commission, and still has to go before zoning to review the application.
Jack Brittain, owner of Windridge Properties and Jack's Electric, has been trying to get approval for a certificate of occupancy since the building was completed in the latter months of 2006. If all goes well, the matter will be settled in the beginning of the New Year.
The board approved several other applications that will make life easier and better for island residents. One was the approval of a water tower antenna for T-Mobile that will improve cell phone service to its customers. Another project, of interest to the many boat owners on the island, is for the construction of a boat wash by Conanicut Marine. The facility uses the latest technology for water conservation and wastewater disposal. The project is a shining example of environmentally responsible islanders who are taking the extra step needed to help make the island a "green" place to live.
The construction of a "green," straw-bale house approved by the board last year was recently completed in 2007. The home serves as a reminder that thinking "green" is a good path to take for getting the nod of approval from the environmentally conscious board.
The panel also approved the construction of the water treatment plant on North Main Road that recently got under way. Additionally, the second water tower was approved and constructed. The tower recently proved its worth by averting a water crisis when the water treatment plant malfunctioned and caused the facility to shut down for two days. Without the new tower, anyone with town water would have had to do without during the shut-down.
The board approved a much needed adult day care facility on North Main Road, and gave its blessing for the major land development as a mixed-use property at the location of the Randall Gallery.
After heated discussions and input from town residents, associations, and councils, the request by David and Jennifer Clancy for reconsideration to allow retail sales at their glass blowing facility on North Main Road was denied. The decision was particularly difficult because the business is a fine example of Jamestown's love and support of artisans and the arts. The Clancys are highly respected for the quality of their work and for their involvement in community events and projects.
Overall, the Zoning Board of Review had an interesting and productive year. Jamestown residents can be grateful for the dedication of the board members who shoulder a tremendous amount of responsibility to make Jamestown a better place in which to live.