REDINGTON BEACH — Residents were vocal in their disappointment after commissioners postponed a meeting that was anticipated as a step toward resolving questions about the amount of hard surface allowed on individual lots.
Residents who packed the assembly hall June 5 had expected to hear a joint meeting of commissioners, building department officials, a consulting stormwater engineer, and the Planning Board discuss potential changes in the town’s impervious surface ration, or ISR.
Instead, Town Planner Bruce McLaughlin asked that the meeting be postponed because information was still being gathered. Building staff had only the previous Friday contracted with a geographic information system professional, Steven Fernandez, to assist in data collection, McLaughlin said, but the data from Fernandez would take “a couple of weeks” to compile and analyze.
McLaughlin said he did not think the information would be available by the next commission meeting on June 19, but that the data would be available for public review before consideration by the commission.
Residents at previous meetings have claimed that a lack of resolution about the ISR could hurt home sales.
Commissioner Fred Steiermann pushed for more immediate action, saying he didn’t see how a lengthy study and approval process would help residents. He made a motion for the ISR for homes to remain at 40%, and the ISR for driveways, pool decks and other hard surfaces to be 15%.
“On top of that, if you’ve got it, you keep it, grandfathered in,” he added.
The 40% for homes “keeps us in our Redington Beach way,” he said, while the 15% for the additional surfaces is “manageable.”
In the meantime, the Planning Board could consider changes to the ISR and start the lengthy process to gain county and state approval for the necessary changes in the comprehensive plan, he said.
In response, McLaughlin said “the decision [on the ISR] would be far better informed” if the commission waited for recommendations from the consulting stormwater engineer.
He added that while the 40% ISR is in the town’s comprehensive plan, he suggested that any revisions to the plan not state any specific ratio. The percentage could then be set by making changes in the building code through an ordinance process, making any future changes less troublesome.
Steiermann objected to that idea, saying that changes to the ISR “shouldn’t just be made on a gavel bang.”
He again pressed for a vote that evening on asking the Planning Board to hold a hearing on raising the ISR rate to 60%. Before he could finish, the packed room resounded with calls of “No, No.”
Steiermann’s motion died for lack of a second.
Audience members could be heard saying, “Ridiculous,” and, “This is ridiculous.”
Mayor Nick Simons began to move on to the next item of business, and the audience again became agitated, asking why no public discussion was allowed.
Town Attorney Jay Daigneault and Simons both responded by saying that the ISR issue on the agenda did not require action, so public comments were not necessary.
Simons said residents would be kept informed about the next meeting on the subject.
No other business was on the agenda, so the meeting was adjourned. However, audience members continued to talk among themselves for several minutes before gradually dispersing.