WESTERLY — A request by Grey Sail Brewing LLC to enter into a leasehold agreement to use town-owned property on Canal Street for parking will move to the Planning Board, now that it has been run by the Town Council.
On Monday the council agreed by consensus to have the company's request move to the Planning Board for an advisory opinion to the council. Town Attorney William J. Conley Jr. said the council was required to seek the board's opinion to comply with a state law that requires municipal planning boards to register opinions related to the use of public property.
The company wants to use the town's property at 75 and 77 Canal St. for parking for employees and customers. The town bought the land 2014, using funds from a Federal Emergency Management Act hazard mitigation grant. Buildings on the two lots, which were prone to flooding, were razed and the lots are now open grassy areas.
Once the Planning Board renders an opinion, the company's request would return for additional consideration by the Town Council. If the council approves of the concept of leasing the land it would authorize the town manager and town attorney to determine the terms of the agreement, according to a memorandum from Lisa Pellegrini, director of development services.
In other business, the council agreed to consider a proposal to eliminate on-street parking on the north side of Friendship Street, from Canal Street to a point across the street from Westerly Agway; from West Street heading west for 185 feet; and on the south side of Friendship Street from West Street heading west for 325 feet.
Town Manager J. Mark Rooney said the proposed parking ordinance changes result from the installation of sidewalks in front of the Westerly Education Center on Friendship Street as well as other recent improvements made to the road. "This is a street that was repaved and reconstructed and sidewalks added ... there just isn't enough room. If you drive that street it's very obvious that there should only be parking on one side," Rooney said.
Chief of Police Shawn Lacey agreed with Rooney. The proposed parking bans will require a formal public hearing followed by a vote of the council.
The council also agreed to notify lawyers on a list compiled by Councilor Sharon Ahern, an attorney herself, that the town is accepting resumes for the position of planning and zoning solicitor. The position has been advertised with the Rhode Island Bar Association since late December and will be advertised on other websites, officials said. The municipal planning and zoning solicitor position and the solicitor for prosecutions positions are both appointed by the council every two years in conjunction with the local election cycle.
The council also agreed, by consensus, to move forward with a proposal to repeal the municipal ethics ordinance. Voters in November approved a proposal to remove provisions in the Town Charter calling for establishment of a local ethics commission, reversing the result of a referendum in 2016, in which proposals to establish a commission and local ethics ordinance were approved.
By consensus, the council also agreed to increase the number of council slots on the Public Works Subcommittee from two to three. Councilor William Aiello asked whether the town would be exposed to a potential violation of the state Open Meetings Act if other councilors attended the subcommittee along with the three appointed members. A violation would not occur as long as the other councilors do not participate in the meeting, Conley said.
The state Open Meetings Act requires public notice of an official meeting if a quorum of councilors meets in an official capacity to discuss municipal business.