Planners give OK for Shoreby Hill home
By Nick Pereira
The Planning Commission sat before a packed room last week to hear an application to build a new home in the Shoreby Hill neighborhood. Many of the design features on the proposed modern bungalow were cause for alarm from many surrounding neighbors.
“We have a lot of people here and I’m guessing they’re not here for Spinnakers,” quipped Chairman Michael Swistak. Spinnakers Café had an application on the agenda that was dealt with later in the meeting.
The applicants are the Scartabellos. The family owned a house in Shoreby Hill before buying a second home closer to the water. After receiving all the appropriate permits, the Scartabellos sold their original home and razed the second one in order to construct a new house at 14 Holmes Court.
“We went forward with the full understanding we had got the go ahead,” said applicant Albert Scartabello.
However, a number of Shoreby Hill neighbors took umbrage with the proposed design. Several informal meetings where held to deal with the neighbors’ issues.
“We proceeded to reach out to the neighbors,” said Albert Scartabello. “We understand how they feel. It is a fantastic neighborhood.”
The Scartabello family then hired local architect Abbey Campbell King to redesign the home to better fit within the historical feel of the Shoreby Hill neighborhood. Campbell King has 30 years experience working with historical neighborhoods, mostly in the Boston area.
The garage, windows and roof were among the appearance issues brought forward by residents in opposition. One concerned citizen was worried about the “mass of the home.”
To summarize, said Swistak, the home wasn’t “traditional enough” for the neighbors.
According to Town Planner Lisa Bryer, Jamestown puts out a pattern book that provides guidelines for the construction of new homes. The parameters are meant to preserve the character of Jamestown and “provide guidance for the Planning Commission,” she said.
“The guidelines are to give you traditional architecture,” argued one Shoreby Hill resident. “They are objective and verifiable.”
While the reason for the guidelines was agreed upon, it was the strictness of the regulations that was the point of contention.
Objecting neighbors argued that the guidelines are mandatory and leave little room for the planning board, although Commissioner Michael Smith disagreed.
“How can you possibly confuse mandatory and guidance?” asked Smith.
“You’re not free to express your own will,” said Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero. “But you have to interpret the guidelines.”
“It’s a gateway site,” complained resident Andrew Russ. “You can’t legislate good taste.”
Not every resident spoke to criticize the home’s design. “I think these plans have come a long way,” said Shoreby Hill resident Betty Hubbard. “I want to thank the Scartabellos for being so neighborly.”
The discussion then changed from the appearance of the home to the affect it would have on neighboring lots.
“My question is dirt, run off, generational concerns,” said Russ. “I just wish the house wasn’t quite so tall.”
Following Russ’ comment, an extensive discussion ensued. The sides disagreed about how height should be measured. However, no one argued that the home exceeded the allowable 35 feet.
“It just seems like building to the max,” said a Shoreby Hill resident.
“I think the Scartabellos are really are going out of the their way,” disagreed Shoreby Hill resident Patti Lagr. “I would support what they’re doing.”
Several other issues were raised about zoning. However, Bryer placed those concerns to rest by saying the town found no potential drainage issues. “It has been determined Mr. Scartabello meets all the zoning guidelines,” she said.
This matter came before the Planning Commission through a procedural mechanism outlined in a town ordinance. The regulation requires any work to a building that is potentially eligible for a historic designation be subject to review by the Planning Commission. Shoreby Hill is currently undergoing the process to become a historic district.
The planning board voted unanimously to approve the application. The Scartabello family has been living in temporary housing since the sale of their original home last month.
Following the Scartabello application, the Planning Commission held a straw poll approving Spinnakers Café’s request to add a liquor license to the business.
“They want to add two things to the menu,” said attorney John Murphy, who was representing Spinnakers. “Beer and wine.”
The application requires a new set of approvals from several boards.
The planning commissioners spent almost 45 minutes attempting to determine how many seats the restaurant has and how many parking spots are required. Spinnakers features a number of indoor and outdoor seats. However, many of those are either seasonal or technically shared by the condo association comprising all the businesses at East Ferry.
“I have 400 things written on six sheets of paper,” said Swistak.
The matter was continued until August in order to allow town staff to complete a formal finding of fact.
However, a straw poll found five commission members in favor of the application. The majority’s reasons being the café will be substantially the same business. Lone dissenter Michael Smith was concerned about available parking.
Commissioner Michael Jacquard recused himself from the proceedings.