Dickerson leads charge on building height ordinance

Pay-per-bag approved at first reading
By Larry Di Giovanni | Jun 10, 2014
Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni Rockland City Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson, pictured during the June 9 City Council meeting, prevailed during a debate over "indefinite postponement" of her hotel-height ordinance.

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."

Other business

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: ldigiovanni@villagesoup.com.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jun 16, 2014 15:21

"Dickerson leads charge on building height ordinance...."  Nothing like beating a dead horse.  The Planning Board and City Council members didn't give a darn that many people in Rockland DID NOT WANT the hotel at the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets but the hotel is going to be built anyway.  I may be wrong but I believe that in the future the City will be sorry they allowed this hotel to be built.

Posted by: Russell Garfield York | Jun 16, 2014 09:39

lets try to get this on the ballot so the people of rockland  gets a say not just the city mayor and council

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jun 11, 2014 09:11

What does the recycled do to alleviate the costs to this equation? Just reading this and do not know if it is, costs' per trash garbage or includes each recycled stuff? Thomaston dump is where I go.  It is clean and we recycle.

Mickey McKeever

Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | Jun 10, 2014 16:55

Hi Francis

You may want to find out if the city going to STOP charging the tax payers for the land fill if they start the "pay per bag". for everyone before beating up on Mr. Lane. If nothing is going to change I would rather pay the flat rate fee to include it being at a higher price.  Maybe they should start a local tax fee for everyone that makes a purchase in stores. That way EVERYONE will have to pay. And you can't use a EBT card to pay for the tax.  Enough picking on you Francis.  Have a great day



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jun 10, 2014 16:14

Amazing how so many things change in eight years. Mr Lane just knows he doesn't want to only pay for the trash he generates. He wants to pay for all the ones that don't want to pay.

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