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Mangrove Land

09/20/2012 at 3:23pm

Solution Sought For Mangrove Land

Last week, the Sand Paper reported that Jim Jamieson, the owner of 6 and a half acres of mangrove covered property located between Mango and Chapel Streets, was planning to appeal to Town Council a decision by the Local Planning Agency to deny him the rights to build based on the fact that the land had been designated as wetlands. On Tuesday, Community Director Walter Fluegel informed us that Jamieson's attorney, Matt Uhle, has requested that the appeal be withdrawn while he works with Town staff on a solution to the problem that Fluegel hopes will result in the property being deeded to the Town so that it will never be developed.

"Our Comprehensive Plan talks about the transfer of development rights, meaning that if you have the right to develop a piece of land you can transfer those rights to another piece of land via a Residential Planned Development (RPD) rezoning,” he said. "The problem is, there is no language in the Comp Plan about what to do with those rights if there is no piece of land to transfer them to.”

What Jamieson's attorney and the Town are now working on, according to Fluegel, is a change to the Comp Plan that would allow Jamieson to hold those rights in abeyance until a suitable receiving property is located.

"He claims he's entitled to 40 units of density for those 40 lots that he can't build on,” Fluegel explained. "So we are working with his attorney on creating language that would recognize he has those rights and allow him to hold onto them until someone comes along with another piece of property that doesn't have enough density to build, say, a motel. That person could then offer to purchase those 40 units from Jamieson – thus allowing him to get a return on his investment.”

So what would the Town get out of the deal? An ironclad assurance that those six and half acres of mangrove land will never be built on – something the current conservation easement does not give them.

"We want to make sure that property will never be developed,” Fluegel explained. "We've heard from the residents and it's clear they don't want to see anything built there, but from his perspective he's entitled to those 40 units of density. So the ultimate goal – for us – would be to say, 'We'll give you those transfer rights if you deed that property to the Town'.”

To accomplish all of this will require a change to the Comp Plan, which means that it will have to be approved both by the LPA and by Town Council.

"It's quite a process, and we want to make sure we get it right, so it will probably take at least six months,” Fluegel said. "But it will be worth it because each party will get what they want.”

Keri Hendry