2014-03-21 / Front Page

Marina Plans Advance

By Barry Bridges

At its meeting on Wednesday, March 12, the Newport City Council discussed an application by the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) to reconfigure its marina and an accompanying request to lift a limitation allowing only historic yachts to be docked at the facility. The question of the evening was whether the city would give a favorable recommendation to the proposals as they made their way to the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) for a final resolution.

An apparent eleventh-hour objection to the plans by a neighboring marina gave the council pause as to the best course of action.

Representing IYRS, Attorney Turner Scott described a process whereby the school approached its waterfront neighbors to get buyin for the marina’s revamp. “We’ve been to the Waterfront Commission and received approval, we went to the Planning Board and received approval, and we made representations that we had spoken with our neighbors and that they were satisfied with the plans,” said Scott. He continued, “The issue tonight is that we’d like to send the issue on to the CRMC with your endorsement” so that the state agency can exercise its jurisdiction over navigable water issues.

Attorney Matthew Leys then addressed the council on behalf of Casey’s Boat Hauling and Storage, the southern neighbor of IYRS. Leys maintained that his client had seen the original plans for the marina but was then unavailable for about a month, during which time IYRS appeared before the Waterfront Commission and the Planning Board with a revised design that impacted navigability at the docks.

Leys asserted that “my client was not available for those hearings; the Waterfront Commission would have looked at things differently if they had the benefit of Mr. Casey’s experience.” Leys asked the council to “give a negative recommendation to this proposal based on the fact that it would negatively affect the property rights of a property owner, it would impair navigation, and it would violate a settlement agreement that was reached” in 2005 as a result of prior litigation over the marina.

Councilor Kathryn Leonard questioned whether the Waterfront Commission knew about the previous settlement or knew that objections had been lodged. Waterfront Commission Chair Ryan Miller was present and commented that “We were under the assumption that the two parties had already talked and were on board with the plan. We were not aware of any litigation in the past.” In response to a question from Council Chair Henry F. Winthrop, Miller said that knowing of objections could have impacted the outcome.

Attorney Scott responded that “it wasn’t until this morning that Mr. Casey changed his mind” and also noted that parameters of the 2005 consent agreement had been honored.

Councilor Leonard expressed further concerns with the prior proceedings, wanting to ensure that neighbors of IYRS were given the opportunity to be heard. She seconded a motion made by Councilor Michael Farley to send the matter back to the Waterfront Commission for reconsideration.

However, after City Solicitor Joseph Nicholson assured councilors that a full hearing would ultimately take place at CRMC because of that agency’s jurisdiction, the motion was rejected by a vote of 4 to 2. Instead, councilors approved Winthrop’s motion to move the debate on to the CRMC with a favorable recommendation, but with the objector’s comments appended to the record.

In other business, the council received a communication from the Energy and Environment Commission and the Tree and Open Space Commission regarding a proposed parking lot landscaping ordinance. Councilor Leonard stressed the need for balance, worrying about the impact of landscaping requirements on businesses. “We have to be careful and realize these businesses need to grow and you can’t hit them with a huge bill and a list of things to do. Balance is needed when parking is at a premium.” The proposal moves into a period of council review and public comment.

A new bicycle rental agency license was granted to IE Cycle of 400 Thames St., and the rental license was renewed for Newport Bicycle at 130 Broadway. New victualing licenses went to Caffé Bellavista at 28-30 Bellevue Ave. and to Regina Rotisserie Chicken at 266 Bellevue Ave.

The resignations of Patricia Archer from the Affirmative Action Commission and the Rev. Raymond Malm from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission were announced. Lauren Carson was reappointed to the Energy and Environment Commission, while W. Craig Nann and Anderson Reggio filled two vacancies on the Waterfront Commission.

The next regular meeting of the Newport City Council is scheduled for Wednesday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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