Todd’s retail building approved

Gaffett family granted special meeting
Fri, 09/22/2017 - 9:45am

The Historic District Commissioners made an easy decision and moved forward on a tougher one at their meeting Monday.

“I want it to look like it’s always been there.”

That’s what Carrie Todd said regarding the 16-foot by 24-foot retail building she is planning on constructing in the historic district on Dodge Street. The five-member board, absent members Mark Vaillancourt and Dennis Riordan, unanimously approved Todd’s application. Todd told The Block Island Times after the meeting that the building will replace the old Jennifer’s Jewelry building and be a retail rental space with storage in the rear.

Town Building Clerk Kate Campanale told The Times that Todd is now “all set to apply for a building permit.” During the meeting, Todd’s contractor, William Carey, a local Block Island builder, said that construction on the project would begin on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 9. Robert Horrigan of Horrigan Builders, the design and build company hired to work on the project, is responsible for the building’s design.

The architectural plans for the new building call for the structure to be constructed on a parcel that is located across the gravel parking lot from the Redbird Liquor Store, which Todd owns and operates. The L-shaped building will utilize the existing parking lot, have red cedar shingles on the roof, clapboard on the front façade and white cedar shingles on the side of the storage space, with a rain garden at the rear of the property.

In her motion to approve Todd’s application, HDC board member Claire McQueeny agreed with fellow board member Arlene Tunney, stating that the design for the building reflects the character of Block Island. “I think it’s a very sweet looking building — a good addition to the historic district.”

Then, it was on to the more complicated topic, which ended with them voting unanimously to host a special meeting to review the revised, updated plans for the Gaffett family’s new two-story commercial building on Ocean Avenue. It will house the Gaffetts’ restaurant, the Old Island Pub, which earlier this year vacated the space for Tigerfish on Corn Neck Road.

The HDC asked the Gaffett family to generate a design plan image of the building within the context of where it will be located, adjacent to the Poor People’s Pub at the base of Calico Hill.

Abutters to the project residing on Calico Hill have attended the meetings, and have been critical of the project.

“Let’s resolve the abutters’ concerns by creating a computer-generated image of the building plan,” suggested Chair Bill Penn. 

Nat Gaffett responded that they “could do a lot of things if they had the money and the time. And we’re getting short on both.”

The Gaffetts’ application has been back and forth to various town committees this past year, leading to required revisions of the project’s original architectural plan. The HDC spent some time during the meeting trying to figure out if they had been furnished with the project’s latest plan.

In the midst of the deliberations, HDC Board Vice Chair Martha Ball asked if the board could “talk about if they were dealing with the right plans. Otherwise, this is all air…”

“One of the issues that we’ve had is you’ve been continually bringing back new plans,” said Penn. “Now is this the final plan?”

“This is the final plan,” replied Nat Gaffett.

That response didn’t seem to satisfy the board, or one of the abutters, Cindy Lasser, who said she could see the board’s frustration. “I see your frustration. We have frustrations — these plans keep changing constantly.”

“One of the things that we are really nervous about is what this building’s going to look like,” said Lasser. “And we are asking again to please consider renderings of this building and Calico Hill and the other rooflines. We have no sense of what this building is going to look like in this neighborhood with these mid-1800 homes — especially when these changes are happening week to week.”

The date for the special meeting to hear the application will be scheduled by the board once the Gaffetts have updated their plans for the project.