By James Niedzinski
---- — ROCKPORT — Residents and officials will have a chance to voice their concerns tonight about public access rights and development plans on the Cape Ann Tool Company site on Granite Street, as well as to show their support for the redevelopment project.
Officials from the State Department of Environmental Protection will be joining town officials for the Chapter 91 hearing for the site. The Mass. General Law was adopted to protect public interest of waterways while securing waterfront access for the owner.
Current plans in the site, proposed by Michael Rauseo, manager, real property owner and signatory of Cape Ann Tool LLC call for boat slips, 13 single-family houses, commercial space, as well as a water taxi that would transport people from Pigeon Cove to downtown Rockport.
Rauseo, who bought the property in September of last year for $1.5 million, had originally agreed to move forward with plans for 25 townhouses first proposed by the site’s previous owner, Old Colony Maritime LLC. But he has noted his new proposal would be more beneficial to residents, giving them a view of the water and increasing tax revenue compared to the plans filed by Old Colony Maritime LLC.
The six permits, both state and local, were all transferred from Old Colony Maritime LLC to Cape Ann Tool Company, but since the proposal changed, some of the permits have to be revised.
In addition to taking spoken comments at tonight’s meeting, the deadline for written comments has also been extended to May 23, according to a legal notice. The hearing is set during a Board of Selectmen meeting tonight at 7 in Town Hall — all of which will be concurrent with the final hour of polling and then the tallying of votes in today’s town elections.
Some residents have already submitted written comments to the state agency.
While the legal notice states the site does not have a water dependent use, Planning Board member Mary Ruth Sole said that may change with inclusion of the boat slips and water taxi.
The town’s conservation agent and liaison with the state DEP, Geralyn Falco, said the agency will simply collect more public comments tonight and make a judgement whether or not to issue the Chapter 91 license later on.
”Some of it (public access concerns) might be about how it’s going to impact the harbor,” she said.
Falco said the Conservation Commission has not seen the most recent plans.
Rosemary Lesch, one of the Harbormasters said her office does have concerns about the site, but would not elaborate before the public hearing.
Erin Battistelli, who chairs the Board of Selectmen, wrote in an email to the Times she was looking forward to the site’s development, noting the hardship for the abutters and the potential tax revenue for the town.
”Basically, we need to ensure that the public access proposed in the new project meets the standards set in the Chapter 91 license and that, the working harbor and our local boat owners and lobster industry are not adversely impacted by the changes in the water dependent uses that are part of the new proposal,” she wrote.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.