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Council Seeks Clarification on Proposed Boat Dock at Gold Lady Jewelers

Owner of Gold Lady Jewelers is looking to build a dock behind his business.

For years, the former Fleet Bank building on Phillips Street in Wickford Village sported a boating dock behind the building. Now, the new owner of the building is looking to rebuild the ramp ­ – but not without controversy and concern from residents and some North Kingstown municipal boards.

Charles Phillips, owner of Gold Lady Jewelers, has owned the building at 30Phillips Street for about three years and now wants to put in a dock for his boat behind the building, on the shore of Wickford Cove. Though a dock had been there in the past, it was not grandfathered in under new laws from the Coastal Recourse Management Council, resulting in the need for Phillips to apply for a special exemption and variance in order to build his 30-by-5-foot dock.

North Kingstown’s Harbor Management Commission voted 6-1 to oppose the change – a recommendation that went before the North Kingstown Town Council Monday night and will go on to the CRMC for review. In its decision, the Harbor Management Commission stated that the dock would have to “serve a compelling public purpose which provides a benefit to the public as a whole rather than private interests.” The commission stated that the dock did not meet the requirement.

At the commission’s meeting regarding the change, many members of the public came out in opposition of the proposal, presenting a five-page oppositional letter to the commission. Commission and community members also questioned when the dock would be accessible to the public – i.e. 24/7 or just during Gold Lady store hours.

Additionally, the North Kingstown Conservation Commission voted 4-0 to object the variance as well, citing the impact on water quality.

“I keep being told, ‘This is not personal, Charlie,’” said Phillips at Monday’s council meeting. “But with the complaints and community members making reference to things that have nothing to do with the application, it makes me think otherwise.”

The unique zoning parameters in Wickford Village, however, are now complicating the matter. The lot is zoned both residential and commercial. Under commercial zoning, Phillips needs to seek a variance from CRMC. If it’s deemed that the lot is actually considered residential, then he would not need the variance. That determination would need to be made by CRMC.

Council Member Kerry McKay stated he felt that CRMC’s regulations were discriminatory, allowing residents to install docks but not commercial lots.

“He pays waterfront taxes just like everyone else,” said McKay.

For Council Member Richard Welch, the matter should be determined by CRMC regarding the commercial vs. residential zoning debate.

“I don’t know why we’re fighting CRMC’s battle,” said Council Member Richard Welch. “Let CRMC enforce its regulations. We should be focusing on what’s best for our town.”

The council unanimously decided to send the application to CRMC with no recommendation, pending clarification on whether or not the lot was considered residential or commercial.

Politics Sheriff of NK January 17, 2013 at 06:56 PM
For crying out loud. Let him build it. It's a dock (in a harbor!!!)... They can ram through a forty storey turbine in a residential neighborhood, but block this? They ram through a huge concrete development for the rural south, while the north end lays waste. But they deny one dock (where there already was one). Thanks Voters, once again, for a loser town government. Maybe Charlie needs to learn the "paper bag trade" that seems to get so much done with the NKGOP types.
Jeff Crawford January 18, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Having fished for many years in that location behind the former bank, I can tell you its more than just building a dock. The whole wall and adjacent land needs upgrading to support the dock foundation & supports as well as the dock its self. Also, if I am not mistaken, the septic field is to the rear of the property so watch out for the brown trout. What isn't clear is where does his right to build end, presumably at the pilings, because beyond that point is a channel which is the public access to the backwaters. The other thing which is not clear is how much dredging is going to be needed to place a boat there to begin with. At low tide, I've stood below and it was only about 2 feet at best. Good luck with the project, because if it is allowed, more proposals will spring up around the harbor and inlets.
NK Parent January 18, 2013 at 03:06 PM
I agree that the town council should not be involved. It's a sad state of our current state of politics that when I read about McKay making a statement the first thing that springs to mind, true or not, is that "Kerry McKay must be buddies with Charles Phillips." Let the CRMC do their job.
Politics Sheriff of NK January 19, 2013 at 08:04 AM
Jeff come on! The wall does NOT "support the dock" they are floated between two pilings. Thats all. There may be a ramp which will rest on the wall at the top end. No big deal. As to the brown trout, thats what you're fishing for here. And as to regs, for the longest time, RI barred private docks in most cases. No one with waterfront property could put one in, even though they pay very high taxes! Then someone sued and set a precedent, that waterfront owners have a right to reasonable dock. Sure its not "quite" as pretty as NO DOCKS, but how would you like to pay $25,000 per year in property taxes and you cant float a wooden dock out back for your boat? That was stupid policy and the court agreed. Give this man his dock. And full disclosure, I've only been in their store one time ten years ago and wont be back because they were very rude. I spent $1000 later that day in a different store. I dont know the Gold Lady people (if these are even the same owners as 10 years ago) but they have a right to a reasonable boat dock like anyone else.
observer January 19, 2013 at 11:48 PM
The wisdom of the people from last November once again shines bright. I am so comforted by the diligence of the town council when it comes to pressing town matters such as this. Are there any other big items to deal with, maybe the colors of the flowers for spring planting as one turns onto West Main St. heading into Wickford. Just had a wild thought, Post Rd. and its lovely appearance as a thriving economic welcome to North Kingstown as you drive south from East Greenwich. How about a few hundred more low income housing units, just to keep NK's finest busy. Last but not least a couple of new foolish legal gambits to spend more taxpayer dollars.

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