The Block Island Times
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Zoning renders split appeals verdict

By Judy Tierney | Jan 29, 2013

The Zoning Board upheld an appeal by Edith Blane Wednesday evening, rescinding a building permit that had been issued to her neighbor to rebuild a shed on a condominium lot named Batteyville, LLC, (Plat 4, Lot 32-3), off Corn Neck Road; the property currently holds three residences, an accessory/cottage and three sheds including the one recently demolished.

Although the hearing was lengthy, with testimony led by Blane’s attorney Joseph Priestley and somewhat shorter testimony from attorney William Landry for Batteyville property owner Bob McDevitt, the facts in the case were short and clear. The permit issued by Building Official Marc Tillson to rebuild the demolished shed was based on a site plan that did not tell the whole story. The site plan showed the shed would be built a location 50 feet from the property line, which would have complied with the town’s zoning regulations; but it should have been rebuilt 29 feet from the property line. Tillson had also signed off on a larger version of the shed.

Tillson testified that he had not realized it was a rebuild and thus needed to be the same size and in the same location as the original until Blane called it to his attention in early fall. He had he said relied on the information supplied by the owner. Once informed by Blane, he went to the property to measure the building site and stopped the work.

The height of the reconstructed shed was shown as 14 feet, not the same as the original, which was 11 feet 6 inches. After a discussion with town land attorney Don Packer, the Zoning Board determined that the shed was an accessory structure, which is a conforming use, but the height was non-conforming as the original shed had a flat and lower roof; the board agreed that Batteyville would need a variance to build it.

The board was unanimous in its decision, with Judith Cyronak recusing herself.

Payne appeal, etc.

The board ruled against an appeal of a violation notice brought by Payne’s 1614 Realty, LLC, (Plat 5, Lot 111), known as Payne’s Harborview Inn. The notice of violation was issued to Payne’s by Tillson on August 2, 2012, for non-compliance with parking, seating and landscaping requirements specified in the permit for the restaurant at the inn. To reopen the restaurant, owner Carol Payne must comply with the permit, the board agreed. Chair Elizabeth Connor recused herself.

Public hearings were held for two small projects and the board approved them. A scaled down version of a shed on property owned by the John Cotter Trust, (Plat 7, Lot 58), on High Street met the approval of previously objecting neighbor Scott Hennessey, who sent a letter stating such to the board. The approved plan showed the shed three feet further from the southern property line.

A variance was approved, with Connor recusing herself, for the addition of a deck over an existing porch and a spiral staircase at the property of Nancy Ziomek, (Plat 8, Lot 33), on Spring Street. The project was proposed to enhance the views from the house, and house designer Geoffrey Rigby-Leather testified that the views of the water from the house were lost when a building in front of it went up and blocked them. Total building lot coverage will remain under 4 percent, and though the staircase is 5 feet from the property line, the 100-year-old house is also within a few feet of the line.

A favorable decision was rendered for Edward Phillips and the estate of Dawn Phillips to move a property line at Plat 8 between Lots 13-1 and 13-2 off Cat Rock Road. The adjustment makes both lots more conforming and moves the garage from Lot 2 to Lot 1.

A public hearing was scheduled for March 27 on an application by Charles and Tobee McMellon, (Plat 16, Lot 44-1), off West Side Road. The McMellons propose an 860-square-foot addition for their single-family residence.

The board re-elected Chair Elizabeth Connor and Vice Chair Kate Butcher; Susan Bush replaced William Comings as second alternate.

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