GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

August 12, 2013

Letters: No 'conspiracies' in Rockport planning

To the editor:

One of the conclusions of your editorial of Aug. 7 is, “The simple fact is that Rockport’s building bylaws are geared toward just one goal — needlessly tying up and delaying development projects on private property that should go forward once zoning requirements are met.”

Usually, such “great conspiracy” statements incline the reader to relegate a newspaper to its second function — wrapping leftover fish. However, in this case, my Rockport neighbors might appreciate some more plausible reflections on the Site Plan Review case that you write about.

Site Plan Review has a simple but important benefit to all Rockporters: it helps to protect neighborhoods from major disruptions affecting quality of life and property values.

Maybe we’re a little provincial, but many of us feel that the relation of built Rockport to natural Rockport is just about right. Small changes to the former are unlikely to disturb this balance, but Town Meeting decided some time ago that large potential changes deserved a well-defined examination.

The particular case that you mention isn’t the largest project that has qualified for Site Plan Review, but at more than 12,000 square feet, its proposed size was more than twice the triggering one that we voted for and eight times our median home’s size of 1,546 square feet.

The subsequent negotiation resulted in some agreed-upon plan changes that we think will help to harmonize the scale and character of the house with those in its vicinity. We finished the process within the required 60 days by voting to approve a written decision on July 11.

The project can thus go ahead in a form that will still have a large impact upon its neighborhood, but less than it would have without SPR.

CAMERON SMITH

Rockport

Member, Rockport Planning Board

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