The Block Island Times
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Planning Board denies Payne’s chair arrangement

By Stephanie Turaj | Jul 17, 2013

Payne’s Harbor View Inn was not granted a modification that would have allowed a flexible seating arrangement. The inn will not be allowed more than 40 seats at the restaurant, with specific numbers allowed inside and outside the establishment.

This decision was made at the Planning Board’s meeting Wednesday, July 10, and had been a topic of discussion at a previous meeting last month.

Payne’s Harbor View Inn, located on Beach Avenue and owned by Carole Payne, had requested a clarification and modification on a planning board decision made June 24, 2011.

At that time, the planning board had ruled to allow the inn a maximum of 40 seats in the establishment — with six seats allowed on the lawn, 10 on the deck, and 24 inside the building, said board member Socha Cohen at the July 10 meeting.

Carole Payne had requested flexibility to allocate the 40 seats as she sees fit, in order to accommodate her clientele and the weather.

“This could result in all 40 seats being outside, depending on the time,” said Cohen. She said that the board had weighed both Payne’s request and the concerns of neighbors. “The seating plan was intentionally included in the prior approval for a reason. I move that the request for the modification of the approved seating be denied.”

This motion passed 4-1, with planning board member Dennis Heinz opposed. John Spier and Sven Risom were absent.

Subdivision applications

The Planning Board approved an application to subdivide properties off  High Street (Plat 7, Lots 91 and 92), owned by Albert Littlefield Revocable Trust and Jane Littlefield Revocable Trust. The subdivision would be conditional on zoning approval.

Dave Hilbern explained that part of the goal of the subdivision was to move the parking area away from the wetland and create more parking space.

The planning board heard another proposal by Dave Hilbern, to subdivide Blake Phelan’s property off Payne Road (Plat 10, Lot 23-1). Hilbern explained to the board that the land would be divided into two lots with open space.

However, the Planning Board agreed that it could not accept the application as presented. In Hilbern’s application, one of the lots created was an irregular shape, described by town land-use attorney Don Packer as “hockey stick shaped.” Packer said that town subdivision regulations do not allow for “unusual” shaped parcels of land.

“You’re jerry-rigging lots to get them to fit,” said Packer. “I don’t think you’ll get that approved as an administrative subdivision.”

Hilbern agreed to return to the board with different plans.

Attorney Bill Landry presented final plans for a subdivision of the Merkler/McAloon property off Payne Road and Mohegan Trail (Plat 9, Lot 58). The board closed the public hearing and will issue a decision at its next meeting.

A subdivision application by Lew and Nat Gaffett to relocate a right-of-way on Plat 7, lot 159-1 was put on hold because some property abutters had not been notified of the application. The application has to be re-advertised in order to notify all the abutters.

Water street clutter

Planning Board members also discussed what could be done about display racks and mannequins that sit on the sidewalk outside of businesses on Water Street. Planning Board Chair Margie Comings said some of these displays end up looking “junky.”

This discussion, which originated from the town Historic District Commission and the Old Harbor Task Force, has bounced back and forth between various boards, and the question still remains who, if anyone, can enforce regulations governing what can and can’t be displayed outside of stores.

When before the town council, town solicitor Kathy Merolla had advised this would be a zoning ordinance, not a town ordinance. However, at the planning board meeting, Don Packer disagreed.

“I don’t know how to write a zoning ordinance for it, never mind enforce it,” said Packer.

Planning Board member Mary Anderson, who also owns Water Street retail business the Glass Onion, suggested notifying stores of current town ordinances prohibiting blocking public sidewalks, and also having a discussion with store owners about their displays.

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