Overlook: Much ado about parking

Thu, 08/05/2021 - 3:15pm

“How a real estate contract can create something so convoluted, I don’t understand,” Member Judith Cyronak said to her colleagues on the Zoning Board on July 28. The board was discussing the Overlook property, which borders the Great Salt Pond between Champlin’s Marina and the Salt Pond Settlement condominiums.

Overlook Realty, LLC, managed by Steven Filippi is subdividing its 6.27 acre lot, keeping 1.77 acres with the Overlook building on it, and selling
the proposed 4.5 acre vacant lot for $10.5 million to the Town of New Shoreham. The town will provide $4.5 million and the Block Island Land Trust, the Block Island Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy will provide the additional $6 million.

The placement of the proposed lot line has created consternation for all parties involved, as the subdivision will result in 14 of the Overlook’s 45 parking spaces being split between the two properties, and five spaces being completely on the town’s property.

This has necessitated a special use permit for offsite parking, which has required hearings before the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board before finally arriving before the Zoning Board. The Overlook has also requested a special use permit to continue using the newly added basement units for employee housing. The approval of the master plan stage review is also contingent on acquiring these special
use permits.
Both the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board gave favorable advisories for the application for both special use permits, although both groups questioned why the proposed lot line hadn’t just been drawn to put the parking spaces on the correct lot.
“It is what it is,” Member Susan Bush said. “We can’t backseat drive on what’s happened before.” Cyronak agreed that it was not really important, with Member Bob Lamoureux summing up the groups’ general view on how the parking conundrum happened when he said, “It
doesn’t matter to us.”
Overlook Attorney Brian Laplante has provided a similar answer to each of the boards when asked why the proposed lot line was cutting off some of the parking spaces: the sales contract negotiations. Laplante has referred to the negotiations as “complex,” “comprehensive,” and “complicated.” Additionally, he told the Zoning Board, “the purchase and sales agreement was negotiated with a straight line that was preferable to the parties, with easements for sharing the driveway and allowing the use of the parking spaces.”

Unlike the proposed lot line, the special use permit process has been a long and winding road, but in the end, the Overlook will continue to use the parking spaces. Of course, the town had already agreed to this in the purchase agreement, with Overlook attorney Brian Laplante and Town Solicitor Bill Landry telling the board that there would be easements recorded in the deed anyway.