GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 17, 2013

Conomo options on table would raze houses

North planning continues

ESSEX — With a number of legal battles still swirling around the status of the town’s Conomo Point properties, town officials are still going forward with the second of three scheduled planning forums, seeking input on residents’ view of Northern Conomo’s future.

The forum, slated for tonight at 7 p.m. in the Essex Elementary School Library, will involve more ideas and public input about the town owned land in northern Conomo Point.

James Heroux, principal design architect for the planning firm Brown Sardina, said this plan is very different from the first one presented in December.

“Many comments I received after the first presentation had to do with park space,” he said.

Heroux clarified the complexities of Conomo Point; while those live there want to maintain the seasonal homes on land they lease from the town, houses would need to be removed to create more park space.

The first plan, posted on the towns’ website prior to the forum, lays out three different options for house removal and its relation to park space. Near-term goals in the presentation include more public parking, improved signage and improved boat ramps.

Some long-term proposals include a town-owned function hall and a town-owned art center, similar to the The Gloucester Writers Center, Heroux said.

As a result of the state Department of Environmental Protection, septic system requirements — part of the Title 5 environmental health code — will also have an impact at Conomo Point.

To comply with the laws, the number of bedrooms in the north must be reduced from 150 to 90 — meaning that some residents will have to either move their house or have it taken down, no matter what Heroux presents.

Heroux’s plans indicate various levels of house removal, which would result in 1.44 acres to just over 7 acres of open and green space.

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