The long journey of attending town board meetings to acquire the necessary approvals for constructing a new Old Island Pub restaurant appears to finally be over for the Gaffett family. On May 9, with board member John Spier recused, the New Shoreham Planning Board granted the Gaffetts unanimous (6-0) final approval for their revised plans to construct a two-story commercial use structure, or restaurant building.
After the approval was granted, the Planning Board members congratulated the Gaffetts. Land Use Administrative Officer Jenn Brady said, “Congratulations,” while Vice Chair Sven Risom quipped that Paige Gaffett was “10 years old” when the Gaffetts began the application process.
Paige Gaffett, who has overseen the application process on behalf of her family, thanked the board, and said, “A weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
The building, which is currently under construction on Ocean Avenue —adjacent to the Poor People’s Pub— has endured its fits and starts since the Gaffetts first endeavored to build it. Paige Gaffett told The Times that her family attended 30 board meetings over the past year and a half seeking the appropriate approvals for the project.
“We have a couple state-level applications in and are awaiting results. Otherwise it’s now a matter of getting our building permit in hand and finishing the work, and hoping all of our sub-contractors we have lined up don’t hit any snags,” said Paige. “I am personally relieved to see a light at the end of the tunnel and not to have to fill out too many more applications and attend any more meetings. It has been a very long process and was stressful at times. Being able to see the physical structure of the building progressing everyday is making me excited and ready to get open again.”
Construction on the Gaffetts’ building began in November, with the foundation being poured, but was delayed in December after Building Official Marc Tillson informed them of some non-compliance issues associated with their building application. The Gaffett family brought their application into compliance by receiving approvals from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, the Department of Health, the State Fire Marshal, and the Coastal Resources Management Council, while addressing a tricky plumbing issue, executing a storm water management agreement with the town, and a Class 1 survey for the foundation.
The Gaffetts told The Times that they did not know when construction of the building would be completed. The new building will be used as the new home of the Old Island Pub, which vacated the building that Tigerfish now occupies on Corn Neck Road.
Cherry Hill Lane project
The Planning Board spent an hour and a half hearing the preliminary stage application for a major subdivision for the Cherry Hill Lane affordable housing development. The project, spearheaded by the Housing Board over the past few years, is calling for the use of eight lots on 4.5 acres of property off Cooneymus Road; five lots will be for single family dwellings, and three for open space. At an April 20 Planning Board meeting, Pappas said the five dwellings would be priced at about $250,000 each.
After the project’s attorney Matthew Landry said landscaping was a “major concern,” Landscape Architect Derek van Lent and Environmental Engineer Sergio Cherenzia referenced a schematic design on an easel, while detailing revisions made to the plans.
During the hearing, about a dozen dissenters to the project interjected with questions, and voiced their opposition to the project, some standing at the back of the room. Among them was Tim McCabe, who called it a “sneaky deal,” and asked for “a process with integrity.” His daughter Alexis McCabe said she didn’t think the project was “the right fit” for the locale proposed.
Resident Cathy Payne asked the board who would police the development after it is constructed and people are living in the five dwellings. Planning Board Chair Margie Comings said that the homeowners association would govern the use of the property, which didn’t seem to satisfy the dissenters in the room.
Abutter Mark Petti had concerns about the open space on the property, stating that, “The project was introduced in 2014 with a flexible design plan — to protect the character of the area.” He said, “Splitting it into three spaces is not open space.”
Petti asked the board how the development would be regulated, to which Pappas said, “The open space provision states that no structures will be built on it.” Pappas noted that the area will be “mowed just as you use your own yard,” and the homeowners association will enforce its compliance.
Landry said the project would be fully vetted by the New Shoreham Town Council, and will include “deed restrictions for affordable housing that will carry on into perpetuity. I understand your concerns,” he said, “but the property will be regulated like anything else in the town.”
“I’ve been with the project since its inception,” said former Housing Board member Doug Michel. “I support this project. It’s not the Westside 20.”