Block Island Times

Conservancy groups push zoning change

Three months ago, the New Shoreham Planning Board agreed to extend its public hearing on changing the subdivision regulations concerning the definition of developable land. The extension came at the request of the three conservancy organizations actively working on Block Island — the Block Island Land Trust, the Block Island Conservancy, and The Nature Conservancy.
The issue is whether or not conservation easements should be used in the calculation of a property owner’s developable land. A change to the zoning ordinances last year struck the exclusion of land protected by conservation easements from the definition, and the Planning Board was seeking to align the subdivision regulations with the zoning ordinance.
At the continuation of the public hearing on Jan. 8, granted so that the conservancy organizations could tabulate the number of easements that might potentially be affected under the rule change — i.e. those easements that did not specifically preclude development rights — Land Trust attorney Joe Priestley said that the rule change could potentially result in 50 new houses being built on land that would previously not have been available to be developed.
As at the Planning Board hearing

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