2013-06-27 / News

Planners work to meet deadline for flood plan

By Nick Pereira

The Planning Commission at its June 19 meeting withheld a final vote on an integrated flood plan until July 3 in order to better study the implications that the plan poses.

“This is a powerful ordinance,” said Commissioner Michael Smith.

The ordinance in question is the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency’s model regulation.

Smith was the primary advocate for a continuance, worrying the planning commissioners could not complete the task adequately without more time.

“Our goal is to forward a recommendation to the Town Council,” he said.

Town Planner Lisa Bryer said that time was a factor. “We have to have this by Sept. 4. It is a federal deadline.”

Bryer said the Planning Commission must first send its recommendation to the council, and then the town needs to hold public hearings before the councilors can take an official vote.

The planning board decided that it will meet to vote on a recommendation on July 3 despite the fact several commissioners will be absent. Originally, the July 3 meeting was slated to be canceled because of the Fourth of July holiday.

“Will you be here, Mike?” asked Commissioner Rosemary Enright. The comment was made in jest because Smith was the primary voice in favor of the July 3 meeting.

“God willing and the creek don’t rise,” said Smith. “That is a flood reference for you.”

The ordinance in question is an attempt by the town to participate in a national program for flood insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is required to approve the legally enforceable flood plan by Sept. 4. In other words, the plan is a detailed outline for the actions to be taken in case of a flood disaster.

In other news, the Planning Commission received a written request from John Somyk asking the commissioners to withhold a final vote on his application. The request was unanimously approved and a new date was set for August.

Somyk has been a frequent attendee at planning meetings since November. He is trying to get approval to construct on an oddshaped lot near wetlands on the North End.

The only other action taken was to elect the board’s officers. Although required by bylaws, the election was anything but contentious. Each officer ran unopposed and was chosen unanimously by the rest of the commission.

“I move that we duct tape Mike Swistak to the chair,” said Commissioner Duncan Pendlebury, voicing his desire to re-elect Michael Swistak as chairman of the commission. Besides Swistak remaining chair, Pendlebury was reelected vice chairman and Enright retained her position as secretary.

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