Town Council has a lot to discuss at its next meeting

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 5:15pm

Town Manager Ed Roberge said the island community is invited to the Town Council’s work session for an open conversation on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. at Town Hall. Roberge said the council will be discussing concerns regarding pedestrian and vehicular traffic and safety issues in the Water Street district, and in the Weldon’s Way, Chapel Street and Dodge Street areas.

Setting public hearing dates for voting on two new town ordinances, as well as a number of procedural items, are listed on the Town Council’s agenda for Monday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. The ordinance-based items will involve the Town Council discussing the potential adoption of a new dune protection ordinance, and the creation of a Community Services Zoning District for constructing town employee housing.

Roberge told The Times that while the council’s agenda seems rather lengthy, he expects the majority of the items to involve brief discussions, as they are primarily procedural in nature. The Rhode Island Fast Ferry case, and litigation involving the town versus Sara McGinnes may be held in closed session.

Roberge said the council would decide on the dune ordinance language, which was drafted by the Planning Board andwill denote a civil penalty for a violation. He said the council would probably schedule a public hearing on January 7 for a vote on adoption of the ordinance.

As for the Community Services Zoning District, an area on the island that consists of the Thomas and Faulkner properties, the Block Island School, and Medical Center campus, the ordinance received final approval from the Planning Board on Nov. 14. Roberge said the town’s “very positive about” the ordinance. “It allows flexibility to meet the community’s needs. There will be flexibility in those parcels. So, it’s a good start.”

The town is targeting the Thomas Property, a $1.5 million, voter-authorized project, to construct a single-family dwelling for a senior town employee, such as Roberge, and four rental units on the footprint of the existing duplex.

Other items that will be discussed at the meeting include allowing relief to the Gaffett family, owners of the newly constructed Old Island Pub on Ocean Avenue, pertaining to its liquor license. The council will act on renewing moped licenses; receive a report from Human Services Director Maryann Seebeck; discuss the potential creation of a real estate exemption for the Manissean Tribal Council; and act on a letter from resident Chris Blane regarding signage, education, and enforcement of hunting at Black Rock/Rodman’s Hollow and on federal property.

The Town Council will also be voting on approval of a well easement at the Coast Guard Station; discuss and act on appointments to the Land Use Attorney Selection Committee; set the date for the annual meeting with Interstate Navigation, the company that operates the Block Island Ferry; set the date for election of a Tax Assessor; and set council meeting dates for 2019, which includes a goal setting meeting.