Proposed walkway at Andy’s Way continues moving forward

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 6:30pm

The proposed construction for a new public shoreline access walkway at Andy’s Way (Plat 3, Lot 155) was brought forth again to the Planning Board on Wednesday, Jan. 13 with the Town of New Shoreham seeking the request of a waiver from Development Plan Review. The application, submitted by the town, was previously discussed at the Wednesday, Dec. 9 meeting, with the board granting an approval to send a favorable advisory to the Zoning Board for the application.

Town Manager Maryanne Crawford read out loud a letter, dated Monday, Jan. 4, to the Planning Board for a waiver of Development Plan Review:

“We respectfully request the waiver from Development Plan Review as the proposed shoreline access walkway at Andy’s Way is not a development involving a change of use to a structure, does not require an increase in parking and is not a new commercial use.

“The proposed walkway will not adversely affect drainage, pedestrian or vehicular circulation, the relationship of buildings to each other in the neighborhood or landscaping. No exterior lighting is proposed and no additional site improvements are proposed.”

Chair Margie Comings made a motion to grant the waiver for the Development Plan Review, with the application passing 4-1. A public hearing on the entire application will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Minor subdivision of land off Cooneymus Road

A pre-application was submitted by the Block Island Conservancy for a minor subdivision of land off Cooneymus Road (Plat 14, Lot 5). The pre-application was submitted to the board for the purpose of guidance and to share information among the participants and board members.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Nov. 3 to the Land Use Department, Attorney Joe Priestley stated the pre-application is for “a proposed minor subdivision to create two buildable lots and one lot not for development.”

Priestley, representing the applicants for the night, noted BIC would “purchase a portion of the eight-acre lot” from owners Jonathan Kastner and Matthew Kastner, who recently inherited it. The eight-acre lot of the Kastners will be used to create two buildable lots, with over two acres remaining, that the BIC intends to buy.

“The BIC would buy that, and it would be a lot created not for development. They could not turn around and sell it and build upon,” said Priestley.

President of BIC Dorrie Napoleone, who was present for the meeting, along with Executive Director Clair Stover Comings, provided some insight on the pre-application.

“We are trying to connect these conservation parcels and provide access to the Palatine Grave site. The other thing, but part of our agreement going forward with the Kastners, is to also put restrictions on the buildings that can be built on the lots. There are two tiny cottages on the lots that could become mansions,” said Napoleone.

The board members also discussed utility and right of way easements for purposes in calculating lot sizes. During the meeting, the board noted an overlapping of easements on the lots: a right of way easement for access to the Palatine burial graves, and a utilities easement.

“The question is if we need to deduct anything at all,” said Town Planner Alison Ring.

Planning Board attorney Bill Landry stated he would take a look at the language of the easements.

“I think that would be helpful to get a clarification for us, in the overlapping situations with utilities and access easements and how that is defined,” said member Sam Bird.

The next step for the pre-application would be a preliminary review by the Planning Board, with a date to be decided upon.

Amending residential structure regulations

After seeing an increase in applications seeking large size and massing of residential structures, the board members decided to hold a conversation on possibly tweaking the Zoning regulations that mandate the size of residential structures. 

“We had a series of fairly large housing applications being submitted over the last months. Some of us felt the numbers were too high and felt the need to lower them,” said Comings, adding that “the numbers need to change” in the Zoning regulations.

Section 514 of the Zoning regulations state: “In no case shall a building footprint of any residential structure, principal or accessory, exceed 5,000 square feet.”

Bird had similar thoughts on amending the Zoning regulations. “People are going to max out what they can do. They are willing to throw lots of money to get to that point,” said Bird.

“Some of the applications also include large decks and swimming pools,” added Comings. “I think we have to realize that people want more than just the standard house.”

“I think that you’re going to find more and more people build to whatever the limit is set at,” said Bird.

“I’m afraid you’re right, Sam,” said Comings.

Ring stated she would check out other communities’ ordinances for assistance in her research for adjusting the regulations.

“I can get some options drafted for review for next month,” said Ring.

The board agreed to come back on Wednesday, Feb. 10 to continue discussions on the matter.