PORTSMOUTH — What is normally a routine state review of an application for a new residential dock was delayed by the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) Tuesday, Nov. 14, at …
PORTSMOUTH — What is normally a routine state review of an application for a new residential dock was delayed by the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the request of the Town Council.
At its regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 13, the council received word of a CRMC meeting to review Mark and Cheryl DeMello’s proposal to construct the dock at 395 Park Ave. in Island Park.
The state notice was included on the meeting docket’s consent agenda, which also includes matters such as bills and business licenses that don’t have to be reviewed individually unless a council member makes a specific request. Consent agendas are normally approved unanimously and placed on file.
In fact, Monday’s consent agenda was approved early on in the meeting, but council member Charles Levesque later asked to revisit it to discuss the DeMello application.
Noting that the CRMC hearing was scheduled for the following night, Levesque requested the council intervene to see if the state review could be delayed until the town weighed in on the matter. (Council member Keith Hamilton noted that the late notice of the hearing was simply “bad timing” as the council hadn’t met in three weeks.)
Levesque said he’s in no position to oppose the application and that he didn’t want to interfere in the DeMello’s use of their property. However, he was hoping for a wider discussion on the issue of “lateral access” for the public along that part of the shoreline.
“It’s a proposal for a floating dock that’s going to be located … to the south of the Island Park Beach. To the best of my knowledge, there are not any docks there now,” he said.
Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr. agreed. Although a number of residential docks dot the shoreline along Aquidneck Avenue in Portsmouth Park, there are none along Park Avenue until just before Teddi’s Beach, on the east end of Island Park. “For this area right here, this would be the first,” Rainer said.
“My experience has been when CRMC grants a dock in a particular area, then other people get the notion or it becomes sort of s prevalent thing,” said Levesque, adding he didn’t want to “restrict the right of passage along the shoreline.”
Setback variance needed
According to the application before CRMC, the DeMellos are looking to “construct and maintain a residential boating facility consisting of a total 188 feet in length, terminating at 50 feet beyond mean low water and requiring a variance to the side setback standard section.” The structure would consist of two portions of a fixed dock, one sloped dock, an aluminum gangway and a floating terminal dock.
If approved, work would commence next spring after CRMC and local permits were issued. Construction would take about two to three months.
Town Planner Lea Hitchen said that according to the plans, there would be more than six feet between the shore to the bottom of the ramp.
“So I guess I would be able to easily walk under it,” joked Hitchen, who is short in stature. “Those taller than six feet would probably have to duck.”
The DeMellos are seeking a variance in order to build the dock within 13.5 feet (25 feet is the requirement) of an abutting vacant lot owned by the Town of Portsmouth. A single-family home on the other side of the 40-foot-wide property is at least 25 feet from the proposed dock’s location.
The council voted 6-0 — Council President Kevin Aguiar was absent — to direct Rainer to ask CRMC to postpone the DeMello’s application for now, and that the matter be placed on a future council agenda.
“It’s nice to have a dock, but I would just like to at least have the opportunity to look at it, think about it, and see if anybody in the community is concerned about it,” said Levesque.
CRMC postpones to Nov. 28
At its Nov. 14 meeting, the CRMC voted unanimously to continue the application until its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, after receiving an e-mailed request that morning from Rainer.
“I apologize for the late notice, but when the town asks for a continuance, we take that seriously. We often defer to the town because their schedule might not coincide with our public notice,” Jeff Willis, CRMC’s executive director, told members.
Mark DeMello, who was present at the meeting, told the CRMC he had no objection to the continuance.