, Gloucester, MA

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October 25, 2013

Letter: Rockport's Site Plan review is not broken

To the editor:

As former Rockport Planning Board members who served at the time when Site Plan Review was adopted in 2001, we have been dismayed at Editor Ray Lamont’s and the Gloucester Times’ ongoing attacks on Site Plan Review.

In your editorial of Oct. 17th, you refer to the Site Plan Review process as being “intentionally tangled” and “pathetic.”

We are puzzled at the paper’s vehement opposition to Site Plan Review and your characterization of the review process for the 10,820 square foot house proposed by Roma III Ltd. at 129 Granite St.

Site Plan Review is a very valuable planning tool in Rockport, as it is in communities throughout the Commonwealth, and has served our town well over the years.

The construction of this house by Mr. Roma at 129 Granite St. is clearly a “high impact” project that warranted Site Plan Review by the Planning Board. The process allowed the Planning Board to conduct a coordinated review of the proposed project and to seek input from other town boards, neighbors and the public.

In its review, the board was able to minimize adverse impacts of the project by imposing conditions that addressed, in part: the handling of stormwater from the site; the volume of fill and ledge to be removed; the location/screening/noise reduction of the outdoor HVAC system; the hours and days of blasting; design changes to building to improve views; landscaping that helps to minimize the obstruction of scenic views and reduces building mass; final grading and stabilization of the site; and lighting. Without Site Plan Review, the town could not have addressed many of these impacts.

As is often the case with zoning reviews, the Planning Board’s decision on the Roma house may not have gone far enough for some and too far for others; however, a board needs to use its good judgment and act within the confines of the law.

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