Council sets timeline to finalize proposed budget
The Jamestown Town Council set a timeline for the final steps leading towards the Financial Town Meeting in June during its meeting on Monday. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser walked the Council through the deadlines that must be met before the budget is presented for a town vote.
“Our charter requires the adoption of a budget 30 days before the town meeting, which will be held on June 6,” Keiser said at the April 4 meeting. “The budget would have to be adopted no later than May 6 and I would like to hold one more workshop to go over any outstanding issues.”
After a comparison of their schedules, the councilors decided to hold the final workshop on April 13, then meet to vote on the budget proposal on April 25. The meeting on April 25 will not be a special meeting, but the date represents a shift from the existing schedule, under which the Council would have held its regularly scheduled meeting on April 18.
The April 13 workshop, which will start at 6 p.m., will include a discussion on the findings of a report on Jamestown Emergency Medical Services. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the JEMS report, which was prepared by Municipal Resources Inc.
Although a date for a second workshop on a different subject — a “historic” designation for Shoreby Hill—was not selected, the Council agreed that it was time to have that discussion.
It was just over a year ago that the Council chose a contractor to decide which of the 85 houses on Shoreby Hill would qualify for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The ini- tiative has raised concerns among residents fearful that such a designation would impose a variety of restrictions on property improvements.
As Councilor Bill Murphy pointed out, a historic designation would not impose any restrictions at all; rather, it would be the Jamestown Zoning Board of Review that would have to decide if the designation warranted the imposition of any new restrictions.
“There was a plethora of misinformation about this last year,” said Councilor Mike White. “You can declare a district ‘historic’ tomorrow and it wouldn’t mean anything until the zoning rules change.”
Town Planner Lisa Bryer told the Council that she would like to start looking for a workshop date that will be convenient for the councilors, the contractor and the state Historic Preservation Commission.
Bryer was also hopeful that the Council would set a date for the facilitated Fort Getty workshop, but the effort didn’t pan out because one of the councilors will be away during the May 9 date, which had been suggested. It looks as though the workshop won’t be held until after the start of the camping season.
Besides addressing workshop dates, the Council also agreed to reaffirm the viability of the Water Resources Protection Committee, which still exists, albeit without a sitting chairperson because the term has expired. Keiser, who sits on the panel, told the Council that the group “has been in limbo for lack of immediate projects following our acquisition of farmland and tax-sale properties.”
“The Conservation Commission believes that the Committee serves a valuable function, particularly in the area of wetlands protection,” Keiser said. “I’m a member of the Committee and I believe they bring a lot to the table.”
Carol Trocki, chairwoman of the Jamestown Conservation Commission and former atlarge member of the Committee, agreed.
“The group wants to keep working even if their work isn’t as fast paced as it previously was,” Trocki told the Council, which agreed to re-nominate a chairperson at a subsequent meeting.
A second water-related issue on the agenda — albeit a much different one — involved a U.S. Coast Guard proposal to establish a new anchorage area south of Brenton Point. The proposal, which was published in the March 21 Federal Register, includes a second proposal to strike from navigational charts the presence of an obsolete anchorage in that area of Rhode Island Sound.
The obsolete anchorage was once used for naval ships bearing explosives; the new anchorage would be used for commercial ships awaiting pilots to guide them into Newport Harbor.
Dan Wright, who chairs the town’s Committee on LNG Threat, told the Council that the Federal Register notice “repeatedly points out that there won’t be any unfavorable environmental impacts [from the new anchorage area], but LNG tankers aren’t considered [in the notice]. Do we want to comment on this? The threat Committee believes we should because there would be a 1,000-foot exclusion zone on either side of an LNG tanker,” which could prevent fishing boats or other vessels from traversing the anchorage in the event that an LNG tanker anchored in that area.
Councilor Bob Bowen, who agreed that the town should submit a comment, observed that “this notice says ‘no vessel that can be a menace shall occupy the anchorage,’” adding that the town should point that out in its comments.
Regarding the absence of any provision for a public meeting on the rulemaking proposal, which arises from the presumed absence of any environmental concerns, Bowen said, “They should hold a public hearing and that should be in our public comments, too.”
The motion directing the threat Committee to submit a public comment on the proposal was passed.
The Jamestown Town Council will meet again during its special workshop on April 13. The Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be on Monday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.