By Marjorie Nesin
---- — The city has requested that the state entity that decides which properties to designate as port areas, review Gloucester’s Designated Port Areas and consider removing some properties that no longer fit the guidelines.
Though the city’s DPA includes the long-vacant Rogers Street I-4,C-2 lot, Gloucester’s request for a review — submitted through the mayor at the request of the Harbor Planning Committee — will likely not affect the I-4,C-2 lot, according to City Councilor Paul McGreary, who sits as vice chair of the city’s Harbor Planning Committee.
Instead the review, aimed at ensuring the DPA, is outlined correctly as the Harbor Planning Committee writes up the harbor plan, would likely result in “minor” changes if any.
“As long as we’re working on the harbor plan anyway, it makes sense to look at the Designated Port Area and see that it makes sense,” McGreary said. “Harbors evolve over time, economies evolve over time, cities evolve over time. It may be useful to look at parcels.”
At least half of each property in Gloucester’s Designated Port Area must host an entity with a water dependent use. A property that falls under the port area designation either must have access to the water and be serviced with sufficient utilities and infrastructure that can support marine industrial use, or the land must have been used historically as a marine industrial parcel.
About a week after submitting a request for a review of the DPA properties, the city still waits for feedback on whether or not the state will conduct the review, which could span over the greater part of a year.
McGreary said since the I-4,C-2 lot most likely will remain within the DPA boundaries, applicants interested in developing the lot will not see their applications stalled despite the lengthy review process.
“I would be surprised if anything happens with the parcel called 1-4,C-2...Once you accept a designated port area, once you accept that funding, then the state decides what goes in or out,” McGreary said.
Still, some business owners whose properties sit on the fringe of the DPA now, say they would benefit from the state review. Joey Ciaramitaro of Captain Joe and Sons Wholesale Lobster Company, the company located at the bend of East Main Street, said removing properties unused by commercial fishermen from the DPA zone would allow businesses to flourish and increase the city’s tax base.
“As long as you don’t displace fishermen, the upland portions of waterfront properties should be allowed alternative uses so that property owners could invest and pay more taxes to the city,” Ciaramitaro said.
Those who would like to see the DPA unchanged say the boundary keeps the fishing industry from fading in Gloucester, as it has in other cities, squeezed out by tourist-based business and marinas.
But City Councilor Joe Ciolino called the request for review reasonable as the city undergoes economic changes, especially in relation to fishing. Ciolino cited East Gloucester especially as an area that likely will never grow to host marine industrial business, with its residential neighborhoods and narrow roads, not wide enough for delivery trucks that a large fish plant, for example, would require.
“When fishing was in its hay day, you would say there’s a lot of sense to the DPA, but now when fishing is in decline,” Ciolino said. “The industry’s changed and I think the regulations need to catch up to it.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.