2014-03-27 / Around Town

Multiple Zoning Requests Approved

By Barry Bridges

Eleven petitions for special use permits or variances were entertained by the Newport Zoning Board of Review at its monthly meeting on Monday, March 24.

The agenda reflected a variety of matters submitted by property owners for consideration, such as requests for higher rooflines, expanded restaurant facilities, deck construction, and relocation projects. After being thoroughly vetted, all proposals ultimately received the go-ahead, albeit with conditions imposed on some.

The board approved two petitions for the demolition of existing structures to be replaced with new construction at 215 Gibbs Ave. and 2-4 Southmayd St.

A third request for demolition and replacement at 27 Lee Ave. also received an OK after a full hearing. Homeowner John Oliveira testified on his hope to demolish the cottage that he purchased at that address in 2006 and to build a new three-story dwelling for his growing family. He sought relief from the lot coverage allowance of 20% and from a modest encroachment into the setback to accommodate a two-car garage. From Oliveira’s extensive research on the characteristics of homes in his neighborhood and its streetscape, he was confident that his proposed residence fit into the existing scheme. The board unanimously agreed, complimenting the petitioner on the legwork and preparation required for his presentation. It found that there were no objectors, that Oliveira was invested in the neighborhood, and that the planned structure would improve the property.

Zoning Chair Rebecca McSweeney had the opportunity during the discussion of two petitions to emphasize that fairness to neighbors dictates a general preference that residential equipment not encroach on property lines. The owner of historic Merrillton asked permission to maintain pool equipment only one foot from the line, while the owner of 95 Webster Street sought to relocate air conditioner condensers 8.5 feet from the border. Both properties have large lots but practical problems in placing the components elsewhere. In both instances, representatives of the petitioners testified to limited alternatives and the board eventually approved the requests after considering such factors as practicality, injury to the public, and the historic or formal nature of the land involved.

The board also favored a petition by Aquidneck Lobster on Bowen’s Wharf to convert 1,100 square feet of fish and seafood storage areas into a standard restaurant to expand food operations, while also adding a seasonal exterior dining area of 425 square feet.

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