2010-07-29 / News

Board considers future of former Swain property

By Sam Bari

Paul Sprague represented himself in an application for a specialuse permit regarding his property at 79 North Main Rd., formerly the headquarters for Ocean State Scuba, during the July 27 meeting of the Zoning Board of Review.

The property was vacated in 2009, when owner David Swain was arrested by U.S. marshals and extradited to the British Virgin Islands. He was then tried and convicted of murdering his wife, Shelley Tyre. Swain is presently serving a 25-year prison sentence there.

Sprague purchased the property on May 6, 2010. If approved, his application would allow the property, which is in a CL zone, to be used for an oil delivery company doing business as Island Energy, as well as mixed use, with two apartments, office, storage and retail space.

Sprague has cleared overgrown brush and debris from the grounds, which have not been maintained during the last two years while the property was in litigation.

He has also parked his four oil delivery trucks at the back of the lot while he installs garage doors on the main building and converts it into four bays to accommodate the vehicles. Sprague depicted his intentions in two drawings that he presented to the board to make clear his plans for the use of the property.

The Planning Commission had previously reviewed the plans and said that the property was already approved for mixed use as a dive shop and office. Consequently, the Zoning Board had to approve the change of use to an oil delivery company, with apartments, office, storage and retail space.

Board member Richard Boren said that he had concerns about the plans because they did not include landscaping or lighting.

“The property is one of the first things people see when they come into the Jamestown downtown area on North Road,” Boren said. “I don’t know that I would be comfortable granting a specialuse application without seeing an attractive landscape and lighting plan.”

Zoning Board Chairman Thomas Ginnerty supported Boren’s views and said that the property was presently an eyesore. He also said that he would like to see a traffic study on how the oil delivery trucks might impact the area during peak drive times.

The other board members echoed Boren’s concerns about a landscape and lighting plan, but were not as concerned about the traffic study because Sprague’s Island Energy had been operating for the past seven years from a nearby location without incident.

Ginnerty suggested that Sprague request a continuance and return next month with more detailed plans that include landscaping and lighting.

Sprague asked if the board could tell him what it wanted to see. Ginnerty suggested that he seek the help of landscaping and lighting consultants because the board couldn’t assist him in the design. Sprague agreed, and the application was granted a continuance to the August board meeting.

In other business, Jamestown Attorney Peter Brockmann and engineer John Lawless represented Walter W. Wetmore in his application for a special-use permit. Wetmore was not present at the meeting.

The application for Wetmore’s property at Umiak Avenue and Dory Street was to allow the installation of a replacement onsite wastewater treatment system and other considerations.

Approval would also allow the construction of a single-family, three-bedroom house to replace an existing dwelling and garage on the site, as approved under development plan review by the Jamestown Planning Commission. The property is located in a R40 zone and contains 23,425 square feet.

After Brockmann and Lawless gave a detailed presentation of the house design, abutting property owners asked a few questions concerning location of the well and wastewater treatment system. Their inquiries were answered to their satisfaction and they gave their support for the project.

The board members approved the application with a unanimous 5-0 vote.

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