Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 06-25-2020

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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22 NO. SMITHFIELD / WOONSOCKET JUNE 25-JULY 1, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE | NO. SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET saw five accidents happening in that time." Lussier has started a petition asking city officials to improve the intersec- tion. His main concern is a decora- tive brick wall owned by Walnut Hill Apartments that impedes visibility for cars trying to turn out of Walnut Hill Road, but he thinks a traffic light would also help ease problems at the busy intersection. As of Tuesday, 650 individuals had signed the online petition. Woonsocket Police Department Deputy Chief Michael Lemoine told The Breeze the intersection has seen a total of 98 accidents since January 2015. Of those, 14 saw at least one of the involved parties transported to the hospital after reporting pain or injury. Lemoine said the intersection accounts for about 3 percent of all traffic accidents on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket. "We certainly would look at any ways to help improve vehicle or pedestrian traffic in that area or any area throughout the city," he said. The department, he said, has not received any specific requests to look at the intersection, but could speak with the property owner of the apart- ment complex about improving vis- ibility. In the case of a light, he said, the decision would have to come from the state, since Diamond Hill Road is a state road. Lemoine said he does not expect the department's investigation of the crash to result in charges other than the citation. "All indications are it was a tragic accident," he said. It's not the first fatal accident to take place at the intersection. At the corner of Walnut Hill and Diamond Hill Roads, where a makeshift memo- rial has sprung up in honor of Blain, a wooden sign bears the names of three crash victims who died on the site in 1982. Lussier and a group of friends stopped by the corner on Sunday while going for a Father's Day ride with Blain's father, Rich. Rich, they explained, is also a motorcycle owner, and had expected to head out for a ride with his son that day. Instead, they said, he lost a son but gained five new ones to ride in Blain's place. Examining the memorial, Rich Blain commented on the nearly 40-year-old sign that now sits next to photographs of his son. "How many more of those do we need room for over here?" he said. Along with improving the intersec- tion, Lussier said the group hopes to pay tribute to Blain's memory by founding a scholarship in his name. Blain, a North Smithfield resident, attended the Woonsocket Area Career and Technical Center and was study- ing to become an electrician. The group has already raised money through a GoFundMe page and hopes to hold a charity ride later this year. "Something has to be done. I'm try- ing to keep John's legacy going, and John's legacy will only be going for as long as we let it go," said Lussier. The Valley Breeze is committed to keep- ing quality news stories like this one free to our readers. You can be a huge part of this local journalism success story by making a one-time or monthly contribu- tion to what we do every week at www. Thank you as always for reading. BREEZE PHOTO BY LAUREN CLEM This is the view for vehicles turning out of WALNUT HILL ROAD, where friends think a decorative wall and other factors contributed to the crash that caused John Blain's death. INTERSECTION From Page One his composting business is protected under the Right to Farm Act, a state law that protects farmers from nuisance complaints by neighbors. Jacques told The Valley Breeze in March he sees the order as "an attack on the fundamental right to compost" and thinks the town's decision could have implications for farms across the state. "If they can do that, what are the other towns going to do? They're going to follow suit," he said. The Right to Farm Act has existed since the 1980s, when suburban development was seen as a threat to traditional farming operations. But neighbors of the Buxton Street prop- erty don't think it should qualify for protection under the state law. Michael Phillips, one of several Buxton Street residents who met with The Breeze to discuss the issue in March, said it had been many years since the property had been used for farming when Jacques purchased it in 2002. "You could argue that every land around here was a farm at one time," he said. Phillips was serving as the town planner in 2004 when Jacques applied for a permit to build a farm stand on the property. At the time, Jacques and his wife, Nancy, were planning to open a vineyard, plans Jacques said they later abandoned due to legal issues over the name of the winery. Other neighbors said the smell has gotten worse since Jacques entered into an agreement with The Compost Plant, a Providence-based composting business, to bring in materials from around the state. Arnie D'Amico, another Buxton Street resident, said many of the neighbors have lived in the area far longer than the compost- ing business and now can't enjoy their yards because of the smell. "Before this injunction happened, it was every day that it was vicious. You could cut it with a knife it was so strong," he said. Peg Votta, another resident who's spoken out about the issue in recent months, said neighbors are prepared to hire a lawyer to pursue the matter. Jacques said he's been subject to repeated inspections by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and U.S. Department of Agriculture over the years and has never run into problems with state or federal officials. The property, he said, is licensed as a medium-scale compost- ing operation by RIDEM's Division of Agriculture. According to information available on the RIDEM website, the state awards two types of licenses for "agri- cultural composting" and "solid waste composting facilities." Those classified as agricultural are required to "mini- mize odors, noise, drift of materials and risk to humans or the environ- ment." Those classified as solid waste are subject to a stricter set of guide- lines that includes agreeing not to cre- ate "objectionable odors" beyond the property line of the facility. Neighbors have objected to the Buxton Street property's agricultural classification, pointing out that most of the composted material is brought in from off the property. Jacques said the town has set a tentative date of July 28 for the hear- ing, though that date could change in the weeks ahead. The issue has been complicated by COVID-19, which has delayed several town meetings or moved them to an online format. Last week, the Town Council voted to hire attorney Stephen Angell and land use expert Edward Pimental to represent the town on the matter. If the Zoning Board votes to uphold the violation order, Jacques could appeal the matter in court, sparking a legal battle that could drag on for months or even years. At least one member of the board won't be voting on the appeal. Robert Najarian, Zoning Board chairman and a resident of Buxton Street, is one of the neighbors who submitted com- plaints to the town. In a letter to the Rhode Island Ethics Commission ear- lier this year, he indicated he plans to recuse himself from the discussion and asked whether he could address the board as a concerned resident. While state law usually prohibits a public official from addressing their own board, in this case, the com- mission determined Najarian could appear before the board as long as he didn't vote on the matter or use his position to influence the deci- sion. In the past, the commission has granted "hardship" exceptions when a proposed project will directly affect a board member's residential property. BREEZE PHOTO BY LAUREN CLEM A BUXTON STREET composting operation has become the target of complaints by neighbors and town officials who say it doesn't belong in a residential area. COMPOSTING From Page One See Our Class Schedule Online at: 1280 Oaklawn Avenue Cranston, RI 02920 401-463-8824 sewing machine center Sales & Service Since 1950 Bernina • Babylock • Elna • Janome • Necchi • Juki The Largest Selection of Sewing Machines & Sergers throughout Rhode Island Consumers Propane 762-5461 BOUSQUET OIL 769-0146 139 HAMLET AVE. WOONSOCKET, RI 02895-0628 Service – SALeS – iNSTALLATiON Of gAS & OiL heATiNg equipmeNT • Boilers • Furnaces • Hot Water Heaters WE FILL GAS GRILL TANKS Is your will or trust over 5 years old? Call for a review JOSEPH J. ROSZKOWSKI Attorney at Law Serving the people & businesses of Northern R.I. for over 50 years. Estate Planning | Wills | Trusts | Probate & Estate Litigation Real Estate & Title Closings 2178 Mendon Road, Suite 300, Cumberland, RI 02864 • 769-3447

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