2013-02-28 / Front Page

Planning board recommends two new homes to zoning

Panel makes sure public right-of-way is protected

Following debate over rightof ways at the Planning Commission’s Feb. 6 meeting, resident Sav Rebecchi last week read from a 1999 memorandum addressing the issue.

“This information is important and I just wanted to get it on the record,” said Rebecchi, who went on to cite extensively from the 14-year-old memo drafted by the town parking committee. Rebecchi spoke during the segment set aside for non-agenda items.

The debate began at the panel’s previous meeting when Timothy Cotter introduced a proposal to tear down the current structure on the intersection of Seaside Avenue and Mast Street and build a new three-bedroom home on the lot.

At the meeting, Rebecchi told the commission there is an unmarked right-of-way abutting Cotter’s lot that allows coastal access. He explained that in the Jamestown Shores, where he resides, unmarked access points are an issue because they become incorporated into the yards of abutting residents.

“What you call paper streets, we call CRMC right-of-ways,” Rebecchi said. Commissioner Michael Smith recommended putting monuments to differentiate between the right-of-way and Cotter’s property, but the request was delayed for final approval until the commission could learn more.

At last week’s meeting on Feb. 20, Rebecchi continued the discussion. According to the memo, right-of-ways like the one on Cotter’s property referred to spots where the public has a legal right to access the shoreline. Essentially, they are pathways from a public road to the beach.

The memorandum classified all right-of-ways from best to worst. Sites classified as best were functioning with parking, while sites classified as worst were recommended to be “maintained as pedestrian access-only sites.” In other words, the access point would be maintained but no infrastructure improvements could be added.

“Where there are or have been encroachments, it is advised that the town mark the boundaries,” said Rebecchi, as he read from the report. Encroachments refer to neighbors abutting the right-ofways that incorporate the right-ofways into their yards. That was the crux of the issue, said Rebecchi, because many right-of-ways on the island are nearly indistinguishable from neighborhood yards and are therefore useless.

Following Rebecchi’s presentation, the commissioners reopened Cotter’s request. Cotter, who is also dealing with a high groundwater issue on the property along with the paper street, is asking the commission to recommend approval to the Zoning Board of Review. Cotter was given tentative approval on Feb. 6, but the commission tabled a formal recommendation.

Smith requested that a condition be attached to the application concerning the Mast Street rightof way. He asked that stone monuments be added to the property’s southwest and southeast corners. “My intention is to delineate the right-of-way,” he said.

There are currently iron rods in the ground marking the corners, but Smith said stone monuments would be easier to see. There is also a small tree in the way at the southeast corner.

After a brief discussion, the Planning Commission agreed to recommend the proposal with the condition that Cotter will install monuments. His application will now move to the Zoning Board of Review.

A second application seeking a recommendation to the Zoning Board – also delayed from the Feb. 6 meeting – was also approved. Donna Perry’s application involved a proposed construction on Stern Street. Perry needed a variance because the proposed home’s well would only be placed 26 feet from a paved road, well within the required set off. Perry’s solution would be to construct rain gardens, and possibly an embankment, to combat water runoff. The recommendation was voted on with little discussion and unanimous approval was given. Her application will now move to the Zoning Board.

Secretary Rosemary Enright presided over the Feb. 20 meeting in the absence of Chairman Mike Swistak and Vice Chairman Duncan Pendlebury. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Planning Commission is March 6 at Town Hall.

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