The Block Island Times

HDC Chair promises quick response time

Wants fewer applications for pre-built structures
By Lars Trodson | Jun 24, 2013

Bill Penn, the Chair of the Block Island Historic District Commission (HDC), sent out a message to business owners in the historic district that he is unhappy with the number of applications the committee is seeing from business who are seeking approval for projects that have already been built.

“I understand that businesses have to open on time, but these as-built applications are an insult to the HDC, an insult to the Historic District and an insult to the voters who established this commission,” said Penn at the group’s June 17 meeting.

Penn said that he wants all businesses that have projects that need HDC approval to know that he is “committed to scheduling any meeting to meet the needs of the business community.” Penn said that the group requires 48 hours to post a legal public meeting, and that he would do that in order to consider any application for a project that needs to be finished in a timely manner.

Otherwise, said Penn, “we might as well not even be here.”

In other HDC business, the council approved a modification to the color of the awning proposed for the Old Island Pub on Corn Neck Road. Co-owner Nat Gaffett appeared before the commission to request a color change from green to a sand color.

“We painted the deck a sand color and it will fit in much better,” said Gaffett. The modification was approved 4-2, with commissioners Martha Ball and Dennis Riordan voting nay.

Johanna Ross, owner of a new business, Island Mist, on Chapel Street, was seeking to install new signs and a sandwich board in two location near the store, both of which were approved.

A new walk-in cooler at The Oar restaurant, which included an out-door condensing unit, was one of the “as-built” applications that Penn was frustrated with, but nonetheless the commission approved the project. The conversion of a laundry room to a new guest room at the 1661 Inn was also approved by the HDC, as was an outdoor shower to be built at the residence of Charles and Michele Gay.

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