2008-07-31 / News

Board approves development plan for packaging company

By Sam Bari

The zoning board, on July 22, unanimously approved a development plan for Environmental Packaging International to construct a commercial building at the corner of Narragansett and Clinton Avenues. A variance for six parking spaces was required. The motion for approval, read by board member Joseph Logan, restricted designated basement space to storage areas.

Mark Liberati, the attorney representing EPI, owned by Victor Bell, raised an argument about the number of parking spaces required by the ordinance. The plan allowed for 17 spaces, but the ordinance required 23. "There is an initial issue of how the building official calculated the space," he said. "The basement will be used for storage only. If we don't count basement space, we don't need the relief."

Liberati added that relief was needed for a handicap space within five feet of the building.

Lynn Bell, wife of EPI owner Victor Bell, said a larger building was vital to their ontinued success. "In order for us to stay in Jamestown and grow the business we have, we need a new office building that would meet the needs of the staff. It's too cramped for us to stay in." The Bells planned to give the building currently on the property to a woman from Clinton Avenue. The woman wanted to make the building affordable housing for her son.

Bell explained the construction would be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified building. LEED is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. "The existing building on the corner will stay. The garage and single family home behind the corner building will be moved," she said.

When asked why the two buildings could not be joined, architect Shahin Barzin said seven design possibilities were considered, including attaching the two buildings on the lot. "It became a monumental building, and we did not feel it would be compatible with the surrounding area," he said.

In response to a question on why the applicant did not yet have sewer and water approval, Fred Brown explained a change of policy in the town. When an applicant needs sewer and water, the zoning board often needs costly and lengthy testimony. So to save the applicant money, it was the policy of the town to go to the sewer and water board first. Now, the sewer and water board requests that applicants go through the planning and zoning process first. "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but that's they way they want it," he said.

Architect Mary Meagher, who contributed to the design, said the shape of the existing building made it difficult to add on to it. "We would have to impede business during construction," she said.

John Murphy, the attorney representing High Tide Condominium Association in the building to the south, said the association was willing to enter into an agreement with the Bells that would provide an aisle for both properties.

Jack Brittain, owner of Jack's Electric on Clinton Avenue, spoke in support of the project and the Bells. "They've been there long before me. I think they are a real positive role model for that district," he said. "They're part of the beautifi- cation of Jamestown."

In other business, the board approved an addition to a house on Hull Cove Pond Road. Mary Meagher represented Creighton and Anne Condon who were seeking to put a second floor on the structure. Board member Richard Allphin moved to approve the application

The house was built in 1918 and had four bedrooms in those days, Meagher said. The property was already approved for a five-bedroom septic system.

The Condons were trying to maintain the qualities inherent in the area which included preserving the historic landscape.

Gayen Thompson, a neighbor to the west of the property, wrote a letter in support of the proposal. "I haven't had a chance to review the actual plans," he said. "But I have met with the Condons, and I think they have been very careful with what they are attempting to do." The motion for approval passed with a 5-0 vote.

In old business, the board agreed to reschedule Mark Bard's request for a variance to the Aug. 26 meeting. The board also granted a continuance for the David Piccoli application for variance.

In new business, the board, sitting as the Planning Commission, agreed to postpone the appeal of V.P. Enterprises to its Aug. 26 meeting.

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