, Gloucester, MA

August 6, 2013

Time line would allow second Brick House plan to advance in Rockport

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — In line with zoning regulations, a Granite Street landowner planning to build a large house has file a notice stating his intent to go forward with the project because the town board reviewing the site has failed to act within the required timeline.

Ron Roma, head of Roma III Ltd, which owns 129 Granite St., plans to have a house on the property, although some parts of the new brick house will be made of stone and the plans are moving on.

The town bylaws for site plan review state that the Planning Board can review and act upon a site plan within 60 days an the application that is deemed to be otherwise complete. From there, the board notifies the applicant and other town officials.

No building permit can be issued by the Building Inspector without written approval of the site plan review by the Planning Board — unless 60 days have passed where the board has not taken an action, according to the bylaws.

In a letter to the town in late July, the Boston based law firm Phillips & Angley filed a notice of constructive approval, saying that, because the Planning Board did not act within 60 days, a building permit can be issued without input from the board.

The letter states the site plan review application was filed on March 14, and both the town and the applicant, Roma, agreed to extend the time to consider the application until July 11, nearly two full months beyond the initial time frame.

“The Planning Board failed to act by filing a decision thereon with the Rockport Town Clerk’s office by July 11, 2013, and therefore the application has been constructively approved,” the letter reads.

Through weeks of Planning Board meetings and public hearings, the site plan review process has been lengthy.

Board members were ready to sign off on a final determination about the during past meetings, but the applicant did not have all the paperwork required; the board signed off on a final determination toward the end of the month.

Hank Betts, who chairs the Planning Board, declined to comment on Roma’s motion for constructive approval, but some have raised concerns if the application was complete when filed.

Betts said the final determination had some agreed-upon stipulations, such as parts of the house being made out of stone, having the house more set back from abutters, having a landscaping plan that includes more setbacks from the road and a note about the character of the house.

“We have a concern with the methodology used for calculating the height,” Betts previously told the Times. Betts said the way contractor Alan Battistelli — who also sits on the Zoning Board of Appeals — measured the average height may have thrown the actual height of the building off by about 10 inches.

The Planning Board has also scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex to discuss ways to measure building height.

The letter to the town states that no appeals about the constructive approval of site plan review may be made until a building permit is either approved or denied, then there will be a 30 day window to file an appeal with he Zoning Board of Appeals.

Building Inspector Paul Orlando could not be reached Monday for comment.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at