To the editor:
Given this newspaper’s dogged persistence in advocating for the Tiverton Yacht Club (TYC) and presenting only one side of the rebuilding saga, this letter may serve as a report on recent developments from the neighbors’ perspective. In August, 2012, the TYC submitted another zoning amendment proposal to the Tiverton Town Council and this newspaper reported that a public hearing was scheduled for April 10, 2013.
The Tiverton Planning Board recused because many members are also TYC members and the TYC proposal was submitted to the Conservation Commission, Wastewater Management Commission and Harbor Commission for review and the issuance of alternative advisory opinions.
At the April 8, 2013, council meeting, after the proposal was rejected in March by Conservation and Wastewater (and before Harbor voted on the issue), the TYC withdrew the proposed zoning amendment which removed all set-back and expansion restrictions regarding the construction of on-site septic systems.
The TYC proposed to effectively eliminate all local control and authority over septic systems and protection of the town watershed. The TYC proposal was a selfish attempt to resolve some of their numerous zoning problems and had no public purpose or public benefit. After thorough consideration, the town boards properly rejected the proposed amendment.
The TYC property represents a non-conforming use and a non-conforming lot. The TYC property fails to comply with zoning in a number of areas and the town simply refuses to enforce the ordinance against the TYC. The TYC has requested and received an illegal building permit and an illegal zone change from the town, both struck down by the Newport County Superior Court. Given all of their areas of non-compliance, the TYC really needs a blanket exemption from the zoning ordinance.
Putting aside the significant septic problems, the TYC operates an illegal marina and provides zero off-street parking for the marina. Under state law, non-conforming uses are disfavored and the policy of zoning is to encourage their relocation to an appropriate zoning district as soon as possible.
To date, the town has taken the opposite approach — indulging and accommodating the TYC with unlawful approvals. For many years, the town has routinely and arbitrarily conducted its planning and zoning functions without regard to state and local law resulting in constant litigation and excessive legal fees at public expense.
After 10 years and the expenditure of over $600,000 in legal fees by the TYC, isn’t it time for the TYC leadership to consider lawful options instead of relying upon the town for expensive political favors? There are many lawful options which the TYC has adamantly refused to consider, instead choosing unlawful options and compelling expensive litigation.
The bitter refusal of the TYC to consider other available options for the clubhouse/marina is not admirable, it is simply dysfunctional and unproductive. Isn’t it time for the TYC leadership (Wayne Karzenski, Steve Hughes and Greg Jones) to consider the greater good of the general membership and move forward with a building plan that does not require the town to change local law or to violate state law for their benefit.
David M. Campbell