Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 11-21-2019

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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SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | NOVEMBER 21-27, 2019 SMITHFIELD 13 cial building facing Route 7. Of those units, 16 would be housing for those of low and mod- erate income. Added to seven units that the developers are looking to avoid developing in exchange for paying an extra fee, that adds up to 16.5 percent LMI housing. Original plans for the Tea Lots, located on a plot of land at Douglas Pike and Ridge Road, included 152 one-bedroom and two-bedroom units within the 76 duplex buildings. Ten per- cent of the units, or 15, would have been for those of low and moderate incomes. Though only one more LMI unit will be added, Kane said scaling back the condo units would keep the density at 3.4 units per acre using a 40-acre benchmark. During the reapplication review on Nov. 14, Kane said developers are trying to find a "happy medium" with the board before going into the next steps of master plan approval. "We did take your comments (seriously). We would like to go for master plan approval," Kane said. "We're hoping this is a plan you can look (favorably) upon," he said. Kane said developers would give a fee in lieu of approximately $40,000 each for the remain- ing seven units to get to 16.5 percent. The town allows the fee for developers that struggle to reach the mandated 20 percent. Kane said the developers are still in talks about how they might get to 20 percent. To reach 16.5 percent LMI, Kane said the development will be a mix of duplexes and triplexes, with the lower-income housing in the central unit. Benjamin Caito, of Millstone Engineering, said the proposed LMI units would look the same from the outside as the others but would have less square footage inside and in the two- car garage. "This plan is so much better than last time," Caito said. He said differences between LMI units and market-rate units would include hardwood floors versus carpeting or Formica countertops rather than granite. Still, members of the planning board were skeptical that the development will be feasible for the town in spite of the changes. Member Michael Moan said he is concerned that giving the Tea Lots a break on the LMI would set a precedent for other developers coming to town. "We normally require 20 percent, and if we give in on this, then it sets up a (precedent) down the line where another future applicant comes in and makes the same argument," Moan said. "Whether we like it or not, we're in the job of providing affordable housing. I say we should stick with it," Moan said. Kane countered that he found it unlikely another development similar to the Tea Lots will come before the board. Divided initially in 1902, the Tea Lots got their name when tea merchant John Hathaway sold 987 tiny lots to his customers along with the purchase of a pound of tea. More than 100 years later, including 15 years of litigation, ownership of the tiny lots was finally granted to Smithfield Estates with 380 lots and Paul, Steven, and Blake Filippi with 493 lots. The two combined the lots to create 228 lots. Kane said developers are willing to continue working with the town to create a project both are happy with. The bottom line, he said, is that he hopes the project will be beneficial to both the town and its taxpayers. Planning Board Chairman Al Gizzarelli noted that the hearing was only informational and said he would appreciate it if the developers come for more input on the project. He said he is interested in seeing a more detailed and informed project at the master plan level. He said the general consensus is the board needs more information. TEA LOTS From Page One MobileQuest Escape Room at East Smithfield Library SMITHFIELD – East Smithfield Public Library, 50 Esmond St., will host a MobileQuest Escape Room on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 1 p.m. These interactive game rooms require quick thinking, cooperation, and problem-solving. Each team will have a set period of time to escape from the room. This program is open to school-age chil- dren and up. Space is limited. Registration is required. Call the library at 401-231-5150. IN BRIEF Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers. Please: • Limit to 500 words. Longer letters may appear online only. • Letters on local or state topics and issues will take precedence over those on national issues. • No more than one letter per person every 8 weeks, please. • All letters must be signed and include a hometown. Send by e-mail to: news@valleybreeze.com, or mail to The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, Lincoln, RI 02865. 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