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- Published on Wednesday, 11 May 2011 14:52
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Beach homeowner Bill Speight appeared before the Planning Commission May 5 looking for a favorable recommendation from the commission regarding the sale of part of a town-owned right-of-way that runs between his backyard and Monroe Bay.
According to Speight, the alleyway runs parallel to Monroe Bay and was originally fashioned for access to water in case of fire back in the days of “horse and buggy” travel. Speight noted the sale of the alleyway will “enable me to own my dock which I now lease from the town.” Speight informed the commission that “both neighbors have signed off on my application.” Speight’s application was to purchase a portion of the alleyway.
The issue of the sale of town-owned waterfront land has been before both the Planning Commission and Town Council in the last year with no final policy or precedent being set. Town Council, during its April meeting, was unable to decide for the third month in a row on the sale of a town-owned waterfront parcel on Lawrence Lane with a split vote of three in favor and three opposed. Council has approved other sales of non-waterfront alleyways in recent months.
Commission members appeared split on the economic potential of the town keeping ownership of waterfront parcels versus the economic benefit of those parcels reverting to the town’s tax rolls.
Commission member Maureen Holt noted that the parcel in question “looks like a perfect place for a bike path connecting Monroe’s birthplace to town.” Holt further noted “There has to be a much more compelling reason to sell waterfront land other than someone bought property and then built a pier on town-owned property.”
Commission member David Coombes said “The bike path is a wishful thinking kind of thing, that’s the way it’s been year after year.” Coombes further reminded the commission that in the past “out of towners have climbed on top of people’s houses.”
Commission member Kent Rodeheaver noted “According to the history of this town, the donation of land for the town specified that waterfront would remain public.”
Chairperson Cynthia Misicka reminded members that the Comprehensive Plan calls for the sale of town-owned property. Misicka further noted “Tourism is so important to this town, I can walk five miles on waterfront land … there is plenty of waterfront without this parcel.” Misicka further said “I do not see that this area would be for public benefit, it is swamp.”
Coombes informed the commission that approximately 2 1/2 years ago council put together a listing of parcels in town that are available for possible sale. However, no copies of that comprehensive document has been provided to commission members. Town Manager Val Foulds agreed to provide members with a copy.
The commission voted on a motion made by member Margaret McMullen to reject Speight’s request to purchase town-owned land on Monroe Bay Avenue. His request was denied in a 4-2 vote. Coombes and Misicka, who were in favor of the sale, voted ‘nay’ on the motion and Maureen Holt, Ed Grant, Margaret McMullen and Kent Rodeheaver voted in favor of rejecting the request.
The commission also reviewed changes made to the Capital Improvements Plan or CIP at its March meeting. Members unanimously agreed to forward the 2011/2012 CIP to council with one additional change — creation of a spray or splash park as a way to increase tourism.
Commission members also unanimously agreed to a text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would require public facilities to be placed 5 feet from a right-of-way with an exception for existing public facilities that do not meet the 5-foot standard.