2009-09-10 / Letters to the Editor

Shores lots need protection

On Sept. 21, the Jamestown Town Council will formally discuss the future of the 100 “tax sale” foreclosed lots in the Jamestown Shores. The Jamestown Shores Association is strongly opposed to the sale of any and all of these 100 lots, which help act as a water recharge for the Shores.

A couple of weeks ago, on Aug. 24, the council held a work session to discuss these properties. The meeting was well attended and included four past presidents of the Shores and myself. I was happy to see that our Town Council does not have any intention of selling lots, which are considered open space and precious wetlands. The town has spent a lot of time acquiring the land that needs to be left as open spaces and not sold to abutting owners and other interested parties. The town’s intention is to place strict restrictions on the lots to insure that they are not used for any development. The town rightfully and logically does not see any monetary exchange for these lots as a revenue benefit.

I think it was a misdirected decision to even think that selling off open space can solve any financial problem, whether it exists now or later. One can’t put a monetary value on Shore’s wetlands or open space. These 100 lots are unbuildable, and they serve the purpose of protecting this side of the island from the demands of the infrastructable...the land is priceless. Once it is gone, it cannot be reclaimed.

Jamestown has four types of land areas, including the village, rural residential area, conservation/recreation area and the Shores. The number of people who live in the Shores comprises more than 52 percent of the island’s population. Our location is north to Capstan, south to Watson Farm, and west of North Road and the Cedar Hill development. The land in the Shores is very environmentally sensitive and much of the Shores had been originally created for seasonal use and a lessdense population.

The lots are non -conforming substandard parcels. The reason for their lack of usage is that the former owners have abandoned them to escape taxes on non-buildable land; hence, the town acquired them. These lots have always been problematic and even selling them to neighbors or others could be very risky. Trees could be cut down, chemical fertilizers could be put on lawns and, even worse, there is the possibility that additional septic systems will be installed, which would exacerbate potential problems with the aquifer.

There is no public water or sewer service to the Shores and there are no plans for the town to extend sewer service. The town has acquired vacant lots elsewhere on the island to prevent overdevelopment and the same thrust needs to be done in the Shores. We have wells that present potential groundwater contamination if not adequately restricted. We have wells that are contaminated. We have over-building in an area that once was only summer cottages that have now been converted to year round and, in some cases, very large houses – and development continues. Every time a new house is developed in the Shores, it affects our surface water run-off and the impact threatens our wells. Applications for variances and special use permits for construction continues, and it is very diffi cult to monitor protection of the land.

In a letter to the Jamestown Press last month, it was stated that this acquired open space could be used for children’s playgrounds, gardens, storage of boats and recreational vehicles, and even building new wells if the old one fails. All of the above would have a serious negative impact on the ecosystem of these properties. It is hard to monitor how land is used. You will find that in some neighborhoods in the Shores, there are already boats, cars, limos on lawns, out-of-scale garages, no sidewalks and rights of way that are completely hidden. How are we going to protect our natural vegetation, wildlife habitat and open space on the island if you “give” this land away?

Protecting the Shores’ ecological needs is protecting the destruction of wetlands to prevent disasters. It was gratifying to realize that our Town Council is aiming to protect the natural resources of the Jamestown Shores. It was important to hear Christopher Powell, chair of the Jamestown Conservation Commission, express the need to protect our open space for this beautiful island. Permanent protection is needed for now and our future generations.
Nancy Kolman Ventrone
President
Jamestown Shores Association

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