DEP, Naples to talk about Causeway rezoning

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Rezoning the Causeway is a probability — at least, in order for the town’s envisioned amphitheater to be built there.

Construction began on the amphitheater this fall. The engineer’s sketch calls for granite on the ground — which is permissible by Shoreland Zoning ordinances. However, the environmental permits were not issued; and those permits were necessary to build a permanent pavilion overhead, according to Causeway Restoration Committee Chairman Bob Neault.

For the amphitheater, “we wanted the capability of having lights and sound systems,” Neault said, adding, “The concept we have in mind doesn’t lend itself to being a temporary structure.”

“Certainly, a permanent structure would be better. One would have the advantages of having a shelter for winter activities. Plus with a temporary pavilion, there would be the expense of putting it up and taking it down, and figuring out where to store it,” Neault said.

During the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, elected officials decided to schedule a site walk of the Causeway with a representative from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP.) That informational walk will most likely happen in the next couple of weeks.

The aim of the site walk is to learn more about rezoning the Causeway as a General Development Zone.

Neault explained to the board during his update on the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway construction project that rezoning the area is a topic that DEP officials have brought up before.

DEP’s Regional Shoreland Zoning Coordinator Mike Morse had suggested in the past that a smart move for the Town of Naples might be to designate the Causeway — or portions of it — as a General Development Zone, Neault said, adding it would allow 25-foot setbacks from the water.

Immediately, Selectman Christine Powers voiced concern about misuse of the zone change “if there were some loopholes.”

Town Manager Derek Goodine said he had already contacted Morse, who said he could help with the language of the potential ordinance. Morse could assist the town in tailoring an environmentally protective but less inhibiting zone for the Causeway, he said.

Selectman Rick Paraschak said the zone change could have positive possibilities for real estate — as long as it is controlled.

The board agreed to start the conversation with DEP’s Morse as soon as possible and “before the weather got too cold for a site walk.”

Once an ordinance is crafted, edited and reviewed by legal counsel, the zone change would not be finalized until it is passed by residents at Town Meeting, according to Goodine.


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