2010-12-23 / News

Harbor, planning commissions look for common ground

By Geoff Campbell

Jamestown Planning Commission focused on a review of the harbor ordinance revisions and a continuation of the 10-year review of the Jamestown Comprehensive Community Plan at their Dec. 15 meeting.

After hearing brief town committee reports, Chairman Michael Swistak reminded the commissioners that the group has a tacit responsibility to review the potentially overlapping responsibilities that will occur between planning and harbor boards regarding the new ordinance and management plan proposed by the Harbor Commission. Swistak added that the Planning Commission was not specifically tasked by the Town Council to review the harbor documents for consistency with the community plan.

Following the group’s initial review of the documents, Swistak suggested that any formal response should include a reminder to the Town Council and the Harbor Commission that adding moorings further strains land facilities, such as parking and bathrooms. Additional land-side support facilities are not currently supported in the community plan. Swistak also reminded the commission that the town has not adequately addressed trailer parking.

Commissioner Susan Little acknowledged that there has already been some limited expansion of the number of moorings, but in locations where land services would not be taxed further. Several commissioners disagreed, suggesting that launch use to distant moorings would require parking.

Rosemary Enright said that the Harbor Commission’s focus on parking was necessary. Commissioner Michael Smith and Enright agreed that the harbor ordinance and the community plan are in opposition with regard to the need for additional parking.

Smith disagreed with the community plan statement that parking is not an issue. “[It’s a] huge problem,” he said. “We keep pretending that it doesn’t exist. It is just ridiculous.”

Little suggested a recommendation to the Harbor Commission. She suggested they make changes in the harbor ordinance regarding parking so that the documents would be more consistent with the community plan.

Swistak’s suggested that the harbor ordinance “encourage commercial uses such as fishing, aquaculture and goods and services that support that.”

Commissioner Dan Lilly expressed concern regarding the apparent lack of enforcement regarding the 15-minute limit of the pump-out dock. Lilly said that boaters who don’t abide by the time limit cause those waiting to circle the dock and ultimately dump in the harbor.

Little said that enforcement of the time limit is a focus and that flexibility has increased with changes made to the work schedule. She also encouraged people to call the police, which has jurisdiction when the harbormaster – or his assistant – is not on duty.

The commissioners voted unanimously that Town Planner Lisa Bryer direct a letter to the Town Council expressing the concerns raised by the Planning Commission concerning the Harbor Commission’s revised ordinance.

As a continuation of the community plan 10-year review, the commissioners engaged in a painstaking review of the language and factual details in the “circulation” section of the document.

Enright addressed changes that she recommended in the history paragraph. Commissioner Richard Lynn recommended that the 2005- 2009 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey be used for the most accurate demographic data such as the number of retirees in Jamestown.

Commissioner Duncan Pendlebury raised a question regarding the detail be given to the “transportation patterns” in section two. The commissioners then discussed “major roads” as an undefined phrase.

Pendlebury recommended that more information regarding circulation patterns be obtained in order to better address parking needs, the bike path and other ancillary issues. Enright suggested that the “major roads” title be changed to “circulation” and that available supporting information be added.

Inconsistent policy regarding the private roads and town maintenance was also discussed in terms of concessions to the town and liability. Snow plowing and paving were chief concerns.

It was acknowledged that some private roads receive town maintenance services such as pavement repairs, brush cutting, and snow plowing, while others do not.

Private road maintenance is requested all the time, according to Bryer. The language, “A private road has its own separate plot,” was added to the community plan.

While paying a great deal of attention to the accuracy of the document, the commission continued to organize the document, choosing clear and specific language eliminating unnecessary details and beefing up those sections that lacked detail.

The group came back to the issue of private roads, a topic that will be raised again as the 10-year review continues.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission is scheduled for Jan. 5, which will include a public hearing on the Evangelista subdivision.

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