Lawyer: Steiner contract with state not an issue for zoning board

Waterford - Town Attorney Robert Avena advised the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday that the town does not have the authority to judge the standing of developer Mark Steiner's contract with the state to purchase the former Seaside Regional Center.

Avena's comments, which he read from the memo he submitted to the commission Monday, came in response to a letter filed with the commission in June by former land-use attorney and Seaside neighbor Francis Pavetti. Pavetti's letter, which opposed Steiner's request for amendments to the zoning regulations for the Seaside Preservation Zoning District, states that Steiner's 2010 contract with the state has expired under provisions of a state real estate law.

Because neither the state nor Steiner has objected to the contract and the contract is not at this time being disputed in court, the contract stands as far as the commission is concerned, according to Avena.

"It's enough basis for the commission to hear the application," he said.

Avena said during the meeting that the contract eventually could end up being disputed in court but that was not a concern of the commission at this time. He also said that zoning changes would impact use of the land regardless of who ultimately developed it.

"A petition for that zone change says, 'How do you want to see that zone into the future, forever?'" Avena told the commission.

Steiner has proposed changing the zoning regulations of the state-owned Seaside property off Shore Road to allow for construction of an inn and privatize the roads inside the prospective condominium and resort development.

His proposal is currently being heard by the commission.

The commission recently completed the public hearing portion of the application review and has until Sept. 19 to vote on whether to approve the requested changes. The commission may seek an extension with Steiner's approval.

The commissioners did not have any questions for Avena after he made his statement. Steiner's attorney Lewis K. Wise wrote in a July 8 response to Pavetti's letter that Pavetti had misinterpreted case law.

The commission's review of Steiner's application for zoning changes is slated to continue at its Aug. 11 meeting.

t.townsend@theday.com

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