2012-12-27 / News

Wetlands, high groundwater complicate proposal for home

Panel delays decision until building official weighs in

A recommendation to the Zoning Board of the Review was the only business conducted by the Planning Commission in its final meeting of 2012. John Somyk, of Seaside Drive, told the panel at its Dec. 19 meeting that he would like to build a home on land he owns near Beacon Avenue.

The meeting was brief enough that the planner’s report consisted only of a holiday greeting. There were no committee reports or correspondence, and no one spoke at public forum.

Two different ordinances are at play in Somyk’s application, says the planning panel. First, there is a question concerning high groundwater. Second, the proposed structure would be within 150 feet of freshwater wetlands.

Somyk actually owns three lots, one along Beacon Avenue and two others that face paper streets. The Beacon lot already has a home on it. The other two lots create an odd-shaped “L” surrounded on three sides by wetlands. The application is to build on the lot combination.

Chairman Michael Swistak stressed that the commission can’t make a decision concerning the application. He said they can only vote whether the panel thinks the application should be “approved or to the contrary.”

Mike Darveau, a land surveyor based in Cumberland, spoke on behalf of the applicant. He explained the steps that would be taken to ensure the “spirit” of the ordinances was followed.

If the home is built, he said, it will be constructed on a slab and feature a septic system already approved by the state Department of Environmental Management. Moreover, he said, the advanced septic system comes with a threeyear maintenance contract that allows a private company to monitor the system and help protect the high-water table.

However, Jamestown staff reported that residents rarely renew the contracts that variances often require. Currently, the town is investigating 17 properties that dropped maintenance contracts after the initial three-year period.

It was reported that the Conservation Committee recommended not to grant the requested variances. In response, the applicant argued that due to the unique shape of the lots, the two relevant ordinances were competing against each other in terms of required setbacks. Also, because the proposed building site was actually two lots, the setbacks were greater because of the larger square footage of the proposed site.

However, Somyk said he is flexible and “willing to adjust” the project to mollify the commission.

The proposed site also has frontage on a paper street. While it has access to Beacon Avenue though Somyk’s other property, there is no existing road access to the proposed site. It was unknown whether an easement could be used to remedy the issue.

The Planning Commission requested that the staff seek clarifi- cation to the easement issue from Fred Brown, building official.

The commission tabled any recommendation until the Jan. 2 meeting when Brown and the town solicitor will be available.

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