GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 19, 2013

Residents react to northern Conomo Point proposals

ESSEX — Residents packed into Essex Elementary School Thursday night for a demonstration of new proposals by planners with Brown Sardina, the design firm hired by the town.

James Heroux, an architect with the firm, noted the issue was a touchy subject.

But despite the sensitive nature, the two-hour presentation and question and answer period were civil, and people stayed within their two-minute talking periods and had relevant questions to ask.

Mark Lynch, former selectmen and chairman of the Conomo Point Planning Committee, listed being respectful and refraining from personal attacks as among the ground rules, before the presentation started. And while there was a flurry of written questions, residents were initially hesitant to ask questions about the plan, which calls for a reduction of bedrooms and thus the number of houses north of Robbins Island Road.

“This must be a first,” Lynch said, after a few moments of silence.

Heroux said his plans emphasized bigger, open and green space parks, based off feedback from the first forum in December.

The plan calls for the number of Northern Conomo Point bedrooms to be reduced from 154 to 90, according to the codes enacted by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The Title 5 mandates regarding septic systems state the town must be in compliance with the anti-pollution standards by 2015.

Several plans proposed by Heroux opted to go under the 90 bedroom mark, in case the town decides to pursue any business ventures on Conomo Point.

“Why stop there?” asked resident Lori Henderson, referring to the 90-bedroom threshhold.

Henderson agreed with Heroux, saying that people who come to Conomo Point do so for the view, not to see the houses.

Lynch said that previous decisions by town officials opted to preserve as many houses as possible, staying close to the 90 bedroom limit.

In addition, Nicholas Cracknell, an outside consultant, said that any cottages that remain standing will only increase in value, as they would likely be located adjacent to a park and waterfront property.

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