The Portsmouth Town Council met Monday night at Town Hall. Featured here is an account of the meeting.
7:02 p.m. - The town clerk officiated a swearing-in ceremony for Probationary Patrol Officers James C. Francis and Ryan A. Goyette.
7:03 - Show cause hearing is held for The Beach House bar. Police previously arrested 17 Roger Williams University students at the bar for underage drinking. The police chief says he met with the bar's owner to reach an agreement and create a plan to prevent underage drinking.
7:10 - Councilor Liz Pedro says she'd like bar to pay police overtime. Pedro motions to fine The Beach House $500, as well as charge the bar for overtime costs. Town Solicitor says council would need to continue hearing to notify owner of change.
7:12 - Pedro says, "I would beg to differ...this is routinely done in our sister city (Newport)."
7:14 - "I would expect to see the owner here," Councilor David Gleason said. "I am here," says Ken O'Brien from the audience. "It appears the owner has not brought an attorney forward for the town...why not look at the legal costs," Gleason said.
7:15 - "As Liz pointed out, it is multiple instances at this establishment," Councilor Keith Hamilton said. "This is the fourth underage drinking violation," Pedro said. "It has been under different ownership over the years," said the police chief.
7:18 - The motion fails to fine the bar $500 and overtime. The council votes 5-2 to accept the consent agreement with Pedro and Gleason against. The agreement fines the bar $500 and undergo a plan to prevent underage drinking.
7:22 - Council reports no votes taken on Glen easement during executive session. The town accepted a donation from the ALT of land on Old Mill Lane.
7:24 - TA John Klimm says his office is working on an ordinance in relation to bridge toll legislation, place an ad to hire judge for municipal court and issued bid for Prudence Island ferry service.
Glen conservation proposal
7:33 - Council to discuss Aquidneck Land Trust proposal for a conservation easement on the Glen property.
7:37 - The property at issue is 153-acres, according to Councilor Blaess. The town would receive $1.5 million for the easement. "I think the town is fine in terms of what we do with that property," Blaess said. "I wouldn't want it developed, but I also like the town to have control."
7:44 - "I don't think it's the council's right for this not to go to the voters," said former Councilor Judi Staven.
7:50 - "The Portsmouth Concerned Citizens oppose the transfer of the Glen," said Larry Fitzmorris. PCC president.
8 p.m. - "I don't see how any rational person could turn this deal down," Portsmouth resident John Brady said.
8:04 - Councilor Mike Buddemeyer says he must leave meeting due to illness. "I've been ill...I've tried to muster my way through this meeting," he said. "I know what my departure means for a vote, but I must excuse myself."
8:11 - "The only way to do this is to give it to the town and allow the town to vote," Jim Garman said.
8:32 - "Don't put words in my mouth," Councilor Jim Seveney said to Councilor Gleason.
8:42 - Each councilor speaks about their views on the conservation easement.
8:49 - Gleason motions to "allow the voters decide if the land trust proposal is worthy of going forward." The motion would send the issue in a referendum to voters.
8:53 - The motion fails in a 3-3 vote with Blaess, Seveney and Molly Magee against.
8:56 - Councilor motions to continue negotiations with Aquidneck Land Trust. Council votes 6-0 in approval.
9 p.m. - Council votes to continue issue on Transfer Station security contract until next meeting.
Council gives OK for dog park committee
9:01 - Council hears request to form committee to explore creation of off-leash dog park in Portsmouth. Resident suggests former landfill in Island Park, which is privately owned, as possible location for dog park.
9:04 - The woman suggesting the park lost her dog after he died in an attack with an unleashed bulldog earlier this year.
9:09 - Council votes 6-0 in favor of forming a dog park committee.
Farm Stand on Boyd’s Lane
9:14 - Tiverton residents, the Mello's, speak before council about farm stand on Boyd’s Lane. The Mello's, who have run their farm stand on town land for many years, say they received a letter recently from town stating they are no longer allowed to run farm stand.
9:20 - Mr. Mello says this would be his 30th year running the farm stand. "We have a lot of customers coming from Tiverton, Little-Compton...We have quite the following," he said.
9:24 - Seveney says letter went out last October. "There has to be a fundamental understanding that it's town property. We're charged with doing the best we can in the interest of the town," he said.
9:28 - Hamilton says the farm stand violates the town's farm stand ordinance. "The produce is grown in Tiverton," Hamilton said. "I don't want to be difficult, but rules are rules."
9:30 - "It's been OK with the town for 30 years, but here we are in June," said Mrs. Mello.
9:37 - "They [375th Anniversary Committee] had a wonderful idea for putting a parking lot there and a farmers market," Pedro said. "...but you can't farm town property."
9:39 - "I also don't want the town to get involved in a family dispute either," Pedro said. "I don't want the town to get in the middle of that."
9:46 - The council motions to authorize the town administrator to negotiate with the Mellos for the rest of the year. The farm stand would then be open this summer and fall.
9:50 - Council votes 5-1 to allow the Mellos to run the farm stand this year.
9:51 - Gleason requests discussion for how town can raise revenue from vacant town properties, including the Coggeshall School, Leonard Brown House and parcel on Boyd's and School House Lane.
9:53 - Council allows town administrator to seek ideas for vacant town buildings.
9:58 - Portsmouth fire chief seeks approval to apply for a Security Grant through Department of Homeland Security, Non-Disaster Grants System.
10:01 - Meeting continues past time deadline.
10:02 - The funds would be used to purchase a new fire boat with matching funds from the town. Seveney asked the deadline for the grant. "The good news is you won. The bad news is you won," he said. The government would pay 75% of the boat's cost.
10:07 - Council votes 6-0 to give permission for chief to apply for grant.
10:08 - Council accepts retirement letter of Town Clerk Kathleen Viera Beaudoin.
10:09 - Council votes to appoint Deputy Town Clerk Joanne Mower as the acting-town clerk. "...I would forever like to thank the residents of this town for allowing me to serve," said a tearful Beaudoin.
10:12 - Council hears request to approve contract award for Glen Farm Storm Water Management System bid. Council approves bid.
10:21 - Council enters executive session.