October 6, 2022

Neighbors embrace proposed Foxboro Point Development; New York City Developer has won Their “Hearts and Minds”

Developer's attorney Terrance Lomme

By the time the April 17 public hearing of the Essex Planning Commission was over, current residents of Foxboro Point were practically oozing their praise for New York City developer, Frank Sciame.  His proposal of seven homes on eleven acres would after all keep property values on Foxboro Point very, very high, and this is fine with the residents of this upscale section of Essex.

Just to rub it in, Sciame noted in passing at the public hearing that Essex town zoning regulations would permit as many as 24 new homes on his eleven acres of Foxboro Point property. Without saying it, Sciame let hang in the air, which neighboring properties would they prefer: (1) 24 new homes jammed on little lots; or (2) seven spacious new parcels, each possessing over an acre of land?

New York City developer Frank Sciame at the Planning Commission

Or putting it another way, would neighbors want new homes which would lower property values, or a few big homes, which would sustain higher property values. Obviously, the second choice was preferred, and for this reason homeowners on Foxboro Point became allies of the developer.

New layout presented and rejected by all

Sciame’s private attorney Terrance Lomme, who has maintained a private practice of law, while serving as a sitting Judge of Probate over nine shoreline communities, began the developer’s presentation by offering a new layout for the 11 acre, Foxboro Point property. This new scheme was meant to meet some of the objections that were expressed at the March 8 public hearing of the Essex Planning Commission.

However, Sciame, himself, immediately, got up and attacked the new plans after they were presented by Attorney Lomme. “We don’t like it,” Sciame said of his own handiwork. “We do not want to do it,” he continued, and he added that the new layout “would block all views to the windmill.”

The windmill at Foxboro Point

Commission reverts to old plans

It turned out that the members of Commission did not like the new plans either, (they even had a parking lot in the middle of it), and so the new plans were quickly shelved, and the Commission members went back to working with the plans originally proposed by the developer in March.

With this settled, developer Sciame began a discussion of the architectural guidelines that he would insist upon before conveying the parcels to their new owners.  Furthermore, these guidelines would not only be embedded in the initial buyers contract to buy the property, they would be carried forward to apply to any future conveyances of the property he said.

Planning Commission Chairman, Dr. Thomas Danyliw, expressed doubt that these architectural guidelines could be carried forward in future sales of the various individual properties. However, Sciame was confident that they could be made in effect “to run with the land.”

One architectural guideline that was mentioned by Sciame was that a new owner would not be allowed to build a new home in a contemporary style. Another architected guideline would prohibit further subdividing the original purchased property. In fact, Sciame was adamant that the original density of the seven properties on the eleven acres of land would be preserved. “We shall make it,” he said, “so this [breaking up of parcels] can’t be possible.”

Sciame was also confident that by the method of architectural guidelines, “We can have a visual corridor to the windmill,” and he added, “We want the restrictions in architectural guidelines to be recorded and reflected in the deed.

A new public access corridor to the water?

After these discussions, there ensued a long discussion about the mapping of a public access corridor running from the road to the waters of North Cove. This topic was first introduced by Essex resident Bill Reichenbach, and later echoed in a letter from the Conservation Commission.

The essence of both Reichenbach’s remarks, and the letter of the Essex Land Trust, is that the developer is required to provide some viable scheme of pedestrian, public access from the road at Foxboro Point to the waters of North Cove.

A pedestrian pathway from the street to water was discussed extensively, especially one that would run down the south side of the development from road to water. In fact, it appeared that the developer was going to draft such a path to present at the next meeting of the Planning Commission, which will be held on May 10.

However, in informal discussions after the meeting with the developer’s consultants, it did not appear that they felt that there was a compelling need to address this public access pathway.

Sciame’s meetings with Foxboro Point residents

New York City developer Frank Sciame

Without question one of the major factors at the April hearing of the Planning Commission was the strong support for the project by the residents of Foxboro Point. In fact, prior to the meeting Sciame, made a number of personal visits with the residents of Foxboro Point.

He even perhaps encouraged one Foxboro Point residents to attack, preemptively, requiring any kind of public access from the road to North Cove. “We do not want public access,” this neighbor said. “There are already twelve locations in the Town of Essex where there is public access to the water.”

Focusing specifically on visual access from the road to the windmill will be the subject of another site walk of the Essex Planning Commission on Friday, April 20 beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the road above the development property. Members of the commission and those interested  in the topic are invited to attend.