2013-02-14 / News

Planning board gives tentative approval for two new homes

High groundwater is main issue with both proposals

The Planning Commission last week was tasked with making a decision of whether it would allow two new homes to be built even though there were questions surrounding the high groundwater on each property.

Daniel Cotta of American Engineering represented Timothy Cotter on Feb. 6. Cotter, a resident of Seaside Avenue near the Mast Street intersection, is proposing to tear down the current structure and construct a new three-bedroom home on the lot.

Currently, said Cotta, the lot is serviced by a cesspool. The problem is that the state Department of Environmental Management has enacted regulations since the current structure was built. The state now requires that cesspools within 200 feet of a coastal feature be replaced. Moreover, Cotter’s lot is flanked by a paper street rightof way that theoretically allows public access to the West Passage. However, despite a small paved parking area, there is no obvious path to the water.

To deal with the cesspool issue, Cotta said his client will install a new SeptiTech advanced treatment septic system with a bottomless sand filter leach field. Town staff said the proposed system meets the requirements of the controlling ordinance and “provides a significant upgrade over the existing cesspool.”

According to Cotta, providing well water for the lot is also a problem.

“These are relatively shallow wells near the water,” he said, adding that it is a common problem for lots along the shoreline

To combat the problem, Cotta said that workers will dig two new wells so that the necessary amount of water will be available. The proposed wells will be dug in addition to discarding two older wells that are currently on the lot.

The town ordinance also requires that new structures be capable of dealing with water runoff for a 10-year storm. Cotta’s solution to the problem, he said, would be to construct two rain gardens on the lot. A rain garden is a depression rooted with plants that traps runoff water from impervious surfaces like pavement or a rooftop.

“What are your feelings on rain gardens?” asked Chairman Mike Swistak.

“If maintained, which doesn’t take a lot, they’re very effective,” said Cotta.

Jamestown resident Sav Rebecchi spoke about the unmarked right-of-way abutting Cotter’s lot that allows coastal access. He explained that in the Jamestown Shores, unmarked access points are an issue because they become incorporated into the yards of abutting residents after a period of time.

“What you call paper streets,” said Rebecchi, “we call CRMC right-of-ways.”

Swistak wondered whose responsibility it was to mark the right-of-ways.

“We can certainly require they be monumented,” said Commissioner Michael Smith. “Good monuments make good neighbors”.

The commission gave tentative approval to Cotter’s request, but withheld final approval until the next Planning Commission meeting so that panel members could more carefully research the issue.

The board then heard a request from resident Donna Perry. Cotta also represented Perry, whose application faced many of the same issues as Cotter’s.

Perry’s proposal is to construct a three-bedroom home on a vacant lot on Stern Street. The home’s well would need a variance because it would only be placed 26 feet from a paved road, well within the required set off.

Water runoff was the commission’s main concern because the lot is “remarkably flat.” As a solution, Cotta said Perry will construct rain gardens and, if needed, an embankment. The commission again gave tentative approval but requested the applicant come back in two weeks with a number of spot grades to reassure the commission about runoff.

The Planning Commission’s next meeting will be on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

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