2008-09-04 / Front Page

Zoning board denies request for variance

Erosion problems with property cited as reason
By Sam Bari

The Zoning Board of Review denied a request for a variance at a Clarke's Village Lane property at its Aug. 26 meeting.

The property is owned by Mark A. Bard and located at the north end of Clarke's Village Lane on tax assessor's Plat 12, Lot 87. He requested a variance from Article 3, Section 82-302 to construct a single family residence with a 15-foot front yard setback instead of the required 30 feet.

Town Engineer Michael Gray, testifyed at the request of Bard's attorney. Gray said that lack of drainage during storm events could cause a certain amount of erosion because a portion of the embankment is vertical. He was not certain that vegetation would prevent erosion, but he said it certainly would help. He pointed out that Clarke's Village Lane has only one catch basin, "so all of the water runs down the road toward this catch basin. Whenever there is a big rain event water gathers and overflows onto adjacent properties," he said.

Bard's attorney, Joe DeAngelis, had asked Gray to testify as an expert witness. Gray said, "I believe the survey was accurate. There was an exposed area that is subject to erosion. I couldn't find any evidence that there was fill material. The soil appeared to be native."

Gray added that storm water runoff would have impact on the road itself if a house were built on the property. However, if the vertical embankment were not managed properly, excessive erosion could occur. He also cautioned the engineer to work closely with the architect to ensure that diverting storm water beneath the building would not endanger the inhabitants.

After Gray gave his testimony, opposing lawyer Andrew Bilodeau of Warwick, who represented nine abutting and neighboring property owners, called Richard Pastore, an engineer and chairman of the North Kingstown Planning Commission as an expert witness.

Pastore also questioned the problem of possible erosion and diversion of storm water run-off as reasons for denying the application. He gave a detailed explanation of the amount of erosion that could occur in a specified length of time if conditions were right. He cited impact of waves on the exposed vertical embankment as well as run-off that was not spread out to weaken the intensity of water flow in a concentrated area.

The board members included in their finding of fact that the applicant also did not provide suffi cient evidence that the request was for the least amount of relief necessary, a requirement of the ordinance. The motion to deny was passed with a unanimous decision.

In an unrelated case, Vice Chairman Don Wineberg moved to deny the application of David and Gilda Piccoli for a variance at their 584 East Shore Rd. house to construct an addition which will be 19-feet from the northerly lot line where 30-feet are required. The application is seeking a variance that goes no closer to the property line than it presently is.

Attorney John Murphy presented the case that asked to fill a notch on the northeast corner of the house that is approximately 17-by 13-feet with a 226-squarefoot room on the first floor with no basement beneath it.

After considering the testimony, circumstances, and support by other board members in favor of the application, Wineberg reconsidered his position. He suggested that he would vote in favor of the application for a variance for the 61,820 square-foot property with stipulations.

Town Solicitor Wyatt Brochu said that since the motion to deny was already tabled, the board was required to vote against the motion before a motion to grant the request could be made.

The motion to deny failed by a 3 to 2 margin. A motion to grant the request passed 4 to 1 under the condition that the applicant could not build a second story to the first floor addition. Ginnerty made the dissenting vote.

The board also considered the application of Patricia Ouimette, whose property is located at 783 North Main Rd., for a variance to construct a three-bedroom single family residential home located 39-feet from the northern property line and 36.8-feet from the southern property line.

The side setback for this zoning district is 40 feet. The 1-foot northern variance was to accommodate a proposed chimney and the 3.2-foot southern variance was to make room for a proposed stairway. The house structure is completely within the building setback lines. The existing house will be demolished upon completion of the proposed home. Said property is located in an RR200 zone and contains 24,050 square feet. The board voted unanimously for approval.

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