Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 05-09-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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12 NO. SMITHFIELD / WOONSOCKET MAY 9-15, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET sidewalks will not have access to Dowling Village Boulevard due to concerns with the steep slope lead- ing up to the road. Instead, the com- plex will access Old Louisquisset Pike, a primarily residential street that also includes the Rock Cliff Farm housing development. The complex, according to the developers, will mark the final major addition to a project that has been in the works since 2004. Except for a small commercial pad located between Texas Roadhouse and Buffalo Wild Wings, the pro- posed lot is the last remaining portion of the property slated for development. Another residential building, consisting of 81 units, is currently under construction on a parcel to the right of Lowe's. As the development approaches the end of active construction, Mancini told board members the details of the buildout have changed since the original plans were approved in 2004. The original special use permit approved by the Planning Board in 2004 allowed for mixed commercial and residential use with the number of residential units capped at 76 – later increased to 81 – and the maximum footprint not to exceed 751,000 square feet. Though the current development only covers 552,000 square feet, Mancini told board members the developer is finished with the com- mercial portion of development and has decided to increase the residen- tial portion due to market changes. If the Planning Board approves the additional residential units, the total footprint of Dowling Village would cap out at about 575,000 square feet, well below the original footprint approved by the board. "From a big picture perspective, I want to clean up that area, keep my commitment to finishing Dowling Village," said Bucci. The garden-style style condomini- ums, Mancini said, would include two bedrooms each and be priced between $230,000 and $250,000, or $1,500 and $1,700 monthly if rented out as apartments. Though Bucci said these prices would place the units in the affordable range, Town Planner Tom Kravitz noted at least four of the units would need to be sold under deed restrictions in order to meet the town's requirements for affordable housing. Under the current plan, the complex would include 45 parking spaces, slightly more than two per unit. At the current application stage, the project does not require a for- mal vote of approval by the board, though Bucci told members he wanted to gauge the town's response before moving ahead with the next application step. "I don't want to get into a whole protracted situation. If the town's like 'We don't like it,' then I'll go pack my bags, work on something else," he said. Members were generally receptive to the project, with one member, David Punchak, suggesting they increase the number of parking spaces to allow for visitors. Only one member, Megan Staples, said she was opposed to the project due to her concerns about parking and fire truck access. "I am not in favor only because from the engineering standpoint, I do not feel it could work," she said. Staples added she would prefer to see commercial development on the property, an option Bucci said he has no intention of pursuing due to the parcel's access on a residential street. In addition to his appearance before the Planning Board, Bucci also recently met with town officials and members of the Conservation Commission and North Smithfield Land Trust to resolve concerns over access to Booth Pond, a property located behind Lowe's. The prop- erty was jointly purchased by the town and the Land Trust in 2014 with the understanding Bucci would provide an easement through his property at Dowling Village once construction was complete. As con- struction continues on the 81-unit residential building, Land Trust board member Carol Ayala told The Breeze local conservationists sought an update on the project and reassurance that the agreement still stood. At the meeting, she said, Bucci reaffirmed his commitment to pro- vide an access point once construc- tion is complete, a date he estimates will occur in another 15 months. A conceptual plan shows the 21-unit condominium proposed for an area of Dowling Village with access to Old Louisquisset Pike. DOWLING From Page One WOONSOCKET – A large tract of land once targeted for a condo development in East Woonsocket is once again up for consideration, this time for a potential purchase by the city that would add 54 acres to the city's land holdings and preserve the area as open space. The parcels, known collectively as Holley Springs, cover an area approximately from Mendon Road to Annette Avenue off Elder Ballou Road and also extend toward Park East Drive in Highland Corporate Park. The area consists of unde- veloped forest and wetlands and is home to critical species includ- ing salamanders and wood frogs, according to an announcement by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The parcels are owned by H.S. Realty of North Attleboro, a com- pany that sought to develop the property into condo units as recent- ly as 2017, when representatives of the company appeared before the Planning Board. However, the plans fell through, and in 2018, the RIDEM awarded the city two $400,000 open space grants to purchase the land. A proposal considered by the City Council on Monday laid out a plan to purchase the tract for a total of $1.2 mil- lion, with the remaining $400,000 after the grants paid out in a series of $50,000 installments over eight years. City residents at Monday's meet- ing spoke in favor of the proposal, citing the advantages of open space and pointing out the tract's status as one of the last remaining unin- terrupted green areas in the city. Christopher McGeehan, a resident of Oregon Avenue, which abuts the parcels, described the proposal as a "golden opportunity" to preserve natural habitat, improve air quality and provide recreational opportuni- ties to residents. "Woonsocket has been given a gift of $800,000 to protect one of the few pristine parcels of green space we have left," he said. "Therefore, we hope the City Council will sup- port this resolution as it will benefit the city in so many ways." McGeehan also pointed out the payment schedule over eight years would keep the impact on residents' tax bills to a minimum. According to a letter from the RIDEM, the properties were appraised at $2.2 million, well above the $1.2 million asking price. Alex Kithes, a city resident who recently declared his candidacy for a vacant City Council seat, also spoke in favor of the proposal and encouraged councilors to ensure the parcels remain open space. "As a city government, one essen- tial role of your job is to protect the natural resources and gifts that the city is blessed with," he said. Not all residents were on board with the purchase. Estelle Bubble, a resident of Fairmount, encouraged councilors to table the proposal for further consideration. Following the meeting, she told The Breeze she was not opposed to an open space purchase but hoped the City Council would also consider pur- chasing open space in the Fairmount neighborhood before finalizing an agreement in another area of the city. The council ultimately tabled the proposal at the request of City Solicitor John DeSimone, who said he wanted to go over the proposal with councilors during an upcom- ing work session before a vote was taken. Under the terms of the pro- posal, DeSimone would be respon- sible for overseeing the purchase. Holley Springs land up for possible purchase by city By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer auren@valleybreeze.com Volume XX, Number 37 May 9, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com

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