2009-07-09 / News

Planning Commission halts ‘green’ roof on office building

By Tyler Will

The Jamestown Planning Commission, by a 2-2 vote, decided not to let Environmental Packaging International add a “green” roof to a an addition on Clinton Avenue. Photo by Adrienne Downing The Jamestown Planning Commission, by a 2-2 vote, decided not to let Environmental Packaging International add a “green” roof to a an addition on Clinton Avenue. Photo by Adrienne Downing The Jamestown Planning Commission halted an additional environmentally-friendly roof segment on a future office building at 5 Clinton Ave. by a vote of 2-2 at its July 3 meeting, with commissioners Gary Girard, Jean Brown, and Nancy Bennett absent.

Town Planner Lisa Bryer explained that a majority of the seven commissioners must form a consensus on a motion if there is a tie. With only four of seven commissioners present and a tie vote on the motion, such a consensus was not possible at the commission’s July 1 meeting.

Commissioners Richard Ventrone and Alexandra Nichols voted for the motion and commissioners Barry Holland and Michael Swistak voted against the motion, which rejected the proposal by Environmental Packaging International. Ventrone proposed the motion, which rejected the addition of a segment of roof that reduces heat emitted by a building. The reduced heat emissions take a small step to counter global warming. Ventrone said it compromises the architectural integrity of the neighborhood. “When I look at the new design, I think it has really changed,” he said.

Bryer said if the motion had passed, it would have also come with a recommendation to the zoning board.

According to documents submitted to the commission, the original proposal from EPI calls for a metal roof about 25 by 46 feet on the second floor, and a green roof about 22 by 17 feet above the first floor.

In the new proposal, the second floor roof is almost cut in half, and there is a metal roof about 33 by 25 feet, and then a green roof about 21 by 17 feet.

The first floor roof remains the same.

In the new plan, the first green roof is on the top of the first floor, and the second green roof is on the top of the second floor. An aluminum spiral staircase allows access to the second, upper green roof, the plans said.

EPI President Victor Bell said the reason for adding the green roof is strictly environmental.

“There is no reason, economic or any reason for the business. I think the building would be more pleasing that way,” he said.

The green roofs are flat, and the metal roof is a traditional, pitched roof, the plans said.

Later in the meeting, Swistak tried to introduce a second motion on the proposal, with a finding of fact that there was no majority consensus on the Planning Commission. The motion did not receive a second, and failed.

After the meeting, Bryer said if Bell still wants to install the second green roof, he will have to go to the zoning board.

Nichols said the flat roof violates new town guidelines. “We are creating precedent, they are freshly off the mint and now we have decided on one of the few applications that we have downtown that we are not going to hold [to the regulations],” she said.

Holland said there is a difference between an industrial flat roof and the flat roof Bell proposed to install.

“Although it seems to contradict what is in the written guidelines, I do not think it necessarily violates the intent of those guidelines,” he said.

Swistak said aesthetics were subjective, and said the scale of the building has not changed much, and the building was “more compatible than less compatible” with the local area, and it is the right of the owner to develop a property as he or she best sees fit.

In addition, he is trying to be as green as possible.

“I think that is what we are all about in Jamestown,” he said, mentioning the town’s wind power and recycling efforts.

After the meeting, Bell said not installing the second green roof would save about $30,000.

“I’m surprised that it came down to an interpretation of aesthetics,” he said, adding that he will most likely continue with the original proposal.

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