standing Westerly Town Hall

WESTERLY — The Planning Board 5-1 Tuesday to approve the preliminary and master plans for a proposed redevelopment of three lots on Plimpton Road, at its intersection with Bay Street in Watch Hill.

The board also voted 5-1 to make a positive recommendation to the Zoning Board of Review on plans filed on behalf of Mary Julian, the owner of 1 and 3 Plimpton Road. The project also involves 5 Plimpton Road, which is owned by Joseph and Mary Raho, relatives of Julian.

The plans call for tearing down a house at 3 Plimpton Road and building a new one with up to 25% more floor space. The current house has 2,017 square feet of living area. An existing house at 5 Plimpton Road would be renovated and a 900 square foot office, which would be mostly below ground, would be built at 1 Plimpton Road on what is currently a vacant lot.

Planning Board member Jason Parker voted against both proposals. Parker said he was concerned that the plans for 3 Plimpton Road would expand the size of an already legal but nonconforming use of the property under the town's zoning regulations, which stipulate minimum lot size, lot width and frontage. Parker, the town's former town planner, also questioned whether the number of parking spaces proposed for the project was in compliance with town regulations.

"I don't see how I can vote in favor of something where it's not in compliance with the zoning ordinance," he said.

Elliot Siderides, president of Windward Development, the New Canaan-based design/build firm working on the project, disagreed with Parker and said his client was permitted under the regulations to rebuild and expand by up to 25 percent. Siderides also said that the rebuild is necessary because the existing foundation would not allow for expansion. The expansion in square footage would not make the non-dimensional nonconformity more extreme, Siderides said.

Town Planner Nancy Letendre called the project a "wonderful opportunity to provide some context- sensitive design in an area that requires context sensitive design."

Gerald and Elaine Visgilio, whose property at 7 Plimpton Road abuts the proposed project, questioned the parking plan and whether it complies with deed restrictions and an easement agreement they said was established between property owners in the area and the developers of the Ocean House.

Gerald Visgilio said he was particularly concerned about the future and whether the parking agreement would remain effective if Julian sells her property. The Visgilios and Julian both said they get along well and hoped to continue working together as neighbors to deal with tight parking and members of the public who sometimes park on their properties.

Board members James Al Hall IV, Dylan Kosten, Richard Constantine, Christopher Lawlor and Justin Hopkins voted in favor of approving the plans and the recommendation to the zoning board.

Hall noted that rather than build the office mostly below ground, Julian could have proposed a building that obstructs views in the area.

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