Housing Board asks for zone change for new development

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 10:30am
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The next property the Block Island Housing Board is seeking to develop affordable housing on is donated land that sits on the edge of the cemetery across the street from Ball O’Brien Park. The lot (Plat 18 Lot 2-3) is currently in the Residential A Zone, but the Housing Board would like that designation changed.
On April 14 the Planning Board heard their appeal to change the lot from Residential A to New Harbor Commercial. This would allow for a larger building imprint on the lot and greater flexibility in terms of design and number of people served.
“We are planning to develop the property across from Ball O’Brien Park,” said Millie McGinnes, representing the Housing Board. By changing the current zoning, the proposed housing development could match other developments in the area such as the E. Searles Ball housing, which is rental, and the West Side 20, which is owner-occupied affordable housing.
The zoning change would require an amendment to the 2016 New Shoreham Comprehensive Plan to change the future land use map for that particular lot from low density residential, to high-density residential.
The Planning Board agreed to move forward and will hold a public hearing on the matter on May 12, although Planning member Christine Grele asked for more details on the massing and density of the project. “It’s important to do more [affordable] housing, but this is an area that is pretty dense,” she said.
Bill Merkler appeared before the Planning Board for a public hearing on an application for a preliminary plan review to a modification to their original subdivision plan for Plat 9, Lot 58-2. When they appeared before the board on the same matter back in December, there was some pushback from abutters on the potential impact to the neighborhood.
Attorney Joseph Preistley, representing the owners, said: “I represented William Merkler and Shannon McAloon, the owners of the land that was the subject of a subdivision before you, several years ago. A question has arisen due to the fact that a building envelope shown on the proposed plan on each lot, through every step in the proceedings before the Planning Board, was omitted from the record plan of the
subdivision. This was a technical error and should be corrected.”
“Are you asking to come in with a plan that adds building envelopes?” asked Town Planner Alison Ring. “What is the applicant seeking?” Merkler indicated that the building envelopes were mistakenly removed from the original plan when it was filed. “My proposal is that what should have been recorded, should be recorded,” said Preistley.
Chair Margie Comings said she would “feel more comfortable” having the materials in front of them. Priestley said they would be provided, and the public hearing was continued to May 12.
After many long months of meeting and presentations, the Planning Board finally made a decision on the request of Nick and Pam Gelsomini for a special use permit to demolish an existing single-family dwelling and build a new single-family dwelling, an accessory residential structure, spa and in-ground pool off of Corn Neck Road.
Comings announced the decision that was arrived at as a result of last month’s public hearing. “I make a motion for the Planning Board to send an unfavorable advisory to the Zoning Board.”
The motion was seconded by Grele, and the vote in favor by 5 to 1.

The applications by Overlook Realty, LLC for a subdivision of land off West Side Road, and Michelle Marino for a stairway to the beach were continued to May 12.