2010-04-15 / News

Commission approves preliminary plan for Cottrell Farm division

By Iain Wilson

Future plans for the Cottrell Farm took a step toward becoming reality last Wednesday as the Jamestown Planning Commission unanimously approved sending a preliminary plan for the land to the Zoning Board.

As it currently stands, the owners of the 32-acre farm want to divide the two-lot parcel into three tax assessor’s lots. Attorney John Murphy addressed the commission, calling the lot, “An unusual subdivision in several different ways.”

The Cottrell Farm is one of the largest pieces of land left on the island, and stretches across patches of the R20, R80 and R40 zoning districts.

The first proposed lot would measure approximately 17 acres and would hold the family house on the eastern side of the property. On the second, approximately twelveand a-half-acre lot would sit the Cottrell farmhouse, a historic structure dating back to the 18th century. The third lot would measure twoand a-half acres and would remain undeveloped for the time being.

“Here you have a chance to preserve a precious part of Jamestown,” Murphy said.

He emphasized that the move will have no detrimental impact on the rural feel of the area, a consideration often at the forefront of these types of negotiations.

The unanimous vote by the commission means that the requirements stipulating that lots need frontage on legal streets will be waived. But Zoning Board officials still have the power to deny the application due to the lack of frontage.

“The frontage was sold off many, many years ago,“ Murphy said.

Two entry points are proposed to the property – one off of Stanton Avenue and the other off of Highland Avenue – but each would serve a separate purpose.

“The driveway going out to Highland Drive will be built to provide access to the farmhouse, but it won’t be the primary access,” Murphy said.

A gravel driveway will serve the housing lot, and the commission was assured that the town’s engineers and fire marshal had been notifi ed of the change.

A portion of the gravel driveway will cut through a section of wetlands, but Murphy noted that the proposed road has been a paper road for many years. Also, it was noted that soil testing had been done on the area near the driveway, and that it met gravel use specifications.

Two inches of gravel would be added to the section of land and then graded and sloped for appropriate water drainage. There was some discussion as to whether granting a special permit for this project would set a frontage precedent for future applicants, but Town Solicitor Wyatt Brochu dismissed the notion, saying, “Each application is taken on its own merits.”

Plans for the smallest of the three lots were not disclosed, and though anything is possible, Murphy said there are no plans yet to develop.

After discussion on the Cottrell Farm, the commission also heard from attorney Peter Brockmann on behalf of a plot of land at 10 Umiak Ave. There was no application for special use, but the owners were required to have their plans reviewed by the commission.

After a lengthy discussion, the commission voted unanimously to recommend the project, but with several findings of fact and conditions.

The list of facts and conditions included a requirement that all well water comply with state law and regulations, that holes in the foundation must be above the groundwater table and that gutters and downspouts must be used for drainage.

The Planning Commission will meet again on Wednesday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

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