Dickerson leads charge on building height ordinancePay-per-bag approved at first reading
Rockland — Rockland City Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson would have none of it during the council's June 9 meeting, when Councilor Frank Isganitis moved to "indefinitely postpone" the height ordinance she sponsored for first reading.
Dickerson's ordinance, which passed by a 3-2 margin, would restrict the maximum height of buildings in the Downtown Zone. Buildings north of the center line of Park Street and Park Drive would be limited to a height of 65 feet, or five stories, while buildings south of the same line would be kept to a maximum of 50 feet, or four stories.
Voting with Dickerson with Councilors Louise MacLellan-Ruf and Eric Hebert. Voting against it were Mayor Larry Pritchett and Isganitis. The ordinance is set for a final public hearing July 14 before possible council passage.
City Attorney Kevin Beal said June 10 that the ordinance is not retroactive as written, as so would not apply to Cabot Lyman's proposed 26-suite, $2.9 million hotel at 250 Main St. Nor would it apply to Stuart Smith's proposed $6.5 million hotel on the Rockland waterfront near Boston Financial, because that project is in the Waterfront Zone.
Nearly four years ago, a similar ordinance proposing to restrict building heights did not gain traction with the council, Beal said. At that time, Lyman had proposed a hotel project similar to his current project but with more mixed uses included.
Isganitis said he wanted to postpone the ordinance because the council is already in the process of taking up overall downtown design standards, which will come up again for consideration later this summer.
Dickerson, however, repeatedly called for a stop to the "indefinite postponement."
"(My) point of order takes precedence over anything you do," she said.
"Motions to indefinitely postpone are debatable," Mayor Larry Pritchett said.
Hebert said indefinite postponement "effectively kills" Dickinson's proposed ordinance, and "if that's the case, I don't support it."
The City Council voted 4-1, with MacLellan-Ruf voting "no," to approve first reading of an ordinance adopting a pay-per-bag trash drop-off system for the approximately 25 percent of all Rockland residents who take their trash to the city transfer station on Limerock Street. Those who have paid their $65 sticker fee will have them honored through May 1, 2015.
At that point, residents will start paying anywhere from 75 cents for a small bag of trash to $2.25 for a 33-gallon bag. The City Council is scheduled to adopt its final Fee Order June 30 when the $10.54 million, 2014-15 general fund budget is considered for final approval.
Waldo Avenue resident Michael Lane said it is like "deja vu all over again." About eight years ago, Lane said he was one of many residents who collected signatures to create a voter initiative that defeated a similar pay-per-bag council ordinance by a 2-to-1 margin.
Lane questioned why pay-per-bag is needed when the city pays for its city dump with property taxes. But Mayor Larry Pritchett said that is not accurate, as the transfer station is paid for by fees and permits assessed for solid waste.
Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 x. 117, or by email at: email@example.com.
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Larry Di Giovanni, a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, is returning to his daily reporting roots in order to cover the city of Rockland for The Courier-Gazette. Originally from Athens, Ohio, his family includes one son, Tony.
Di Giovanni has covered news beats ranging from the city of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., to the largest tribal government in the United States — the Navajo Nation. He has also worked as a writer in the public education and higher education fields. He's an animal enthusiast and loves dogs.
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