This Week in EG: Planning Board, Electronics Recycling

It may feel like winter, but the daffodils make it look like spring.

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Monday, April 16

Boston Marathon – Here are the people from East Greenwich who will be running: Brooke Andreozzi, Ross MacAndrew, Robert Bentsen, Jason Reilly, Dino Caparco, Tom Sheeran, and John Thomas, and Lisa Meehan. Good luck, everyone!

Exploring Mindfulness Meditation – Meditation at East Greenwich Free Library on first and third Mondays. No experience necessary; all are welcome. Free. 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the library. For more information about this program or the Friends of the Library, contact: friendseglibrary@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 18

Lunch on the Hill – If you are looking for some good food and company, stop by the dining room at St. Luke’s Church on Peirce Street where you will find both. A free lunch is offered every week, sponsored by various local churches and restaurants – a different church-restaurant combination each week. From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Planning Board meeting – The only project on the agenda is final plan review of an 11-lot cluster subdivision called “Frenchtown Place,” on Frenchtown Road (not surprisingly). The project gained preliminary plan approval back in 2016. They meet in Council Chambers in Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 19

Paper Shredding & Electronics Recycling – You will be able to recycle all sorts of electronics, including computers, TVs, keyboards, monitors, printers, window air conditioners, routers, microwaves, cables, wires, cell phones and more. And there will be a mobile paper shredded on hand too. At Office Recycling Solutions, 65 Rocky Hollow Road. Shredding costs .25 cents per pound; recycling costs $5 per item with a $20 maximum per resident, $50 maximum for businesses. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Presented in part by the EG Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact Brent at 401-580-5132 or info@officerecyclingsolutions.com.

Saturday, April 21

Earth Day

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is ON this week.

Volunteers Needed for After Prom! This is as much fun as you will have all year. You get to meet new people, be surrounded by amazing creativity, and help a bunch of teenagers have a terrific After Prom. Click here to learn more.

EG Police Union Is Fundraising – This is an “all points bulletin,” if you will, to let you know the EG Police Union is soliciting sponsorships to its 2018 Yearbook and Business Directory, so don’t be surprised if you get a phone call. This is in advance of their Comedy Night at Quidnessett Country Club June 28 – the directories will be available then.

EGHS Class of 1960 Reunion – The East Greenwich High School Class of 1960 will be holding their 58th Reunion on Sunday, July 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the East Greenwich Veterans’ Firemen’s Hall on Queen Street in East Greenwich. People from EGHS classes before and after the Class of ’60 are welcome. For more information and detail contact Dan Shea (401-821-4521 or dsheajr@cox.net). To reserve your spot, send a check for $30 (per person) to Judy Briggs, 146 Sisson Road, Greene, R.I. 02827.

LOOKING AHEAD

Thursday, April 26

Collecting Original Art – The Friends of the East Greenwich Free Library will present a panel discussion will offer several perspectives on collecting art, with an emphasis on the How, Why and What of buying art today. Panelists include Cade Tompkins, contemporary art dealer and gallery owner Cade Tompkins Projects, Providence; Richard Whitten, artist and Professor of Painting and Art Department Chairperson at Rhode Island College; Catherine A. Sammartino, Partner at the law firm Sammartino & Berg LLP in Providence; and moderator Michael Rose, art historian, gallerist, appraiser, and gallery manager at the historic Providence Art Club. From 6 to 8 p.m. East Greenwich Free Library, 82 Peirce Street, East Greenwich. Designed for all levels of the collecting experience. Seating is on a first come, first served basis and subject to capacity. For more info, contact: friendseglibrary@gmail.com or visit www.eastgreenwichlibrary.org.

Saturday, April 28

Touch a Truck – The Greenwich Bay Woman’s Club is sponsoring Family Open House Touch-a-Truck at the Warwick Fire Station at 225 Potowomut Road from 9 to 11 a.m. They will be collecting canned goods for a local food pantry, so donations are encouraged!

Sunday, April 29

Race to the Stage – Performers competing for a spot on the program for Summer’s End – as well cash prizes – take the stage at the Odeum at 4 p.m. Live judges will ultimately select the winners, but audience response may help decide their fate. Tickets are $10 in Advance, and $15 at the Door.

Tuesday, May 1

EG Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner – More details soon.

Together RI Community Supper – The Rhode Island Foundation is holding a series of community dinners around the state. The idea is to share a meal with other members of your community and get creative about the challenges and possibilities facing Rhode Island. It’s free. At the Varnum Armory, 6 Main Street, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is encouraged but not mandatory. Click here for more information and to register.

Friday, May 4

Into the Woods, Jr. – The award-winning Cole Drama Club will perform this musical based on fairy tales with a twist at East Greenwich High School at 7 p.m. (and again on Saturday at 4 p.m.). Tickets are $10 per person and will be available at the door and online at https://bit.ly/2pTjkSD. Find more information on the show on the Cole Drama Club’s Facebook page here.

Saturday, May 5

Into the Woods, Jr. – The award-winning Cole Drama Club will perform this musical based on fairy tales with a twist at East Greenwich High School at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and will be available at the door and online at https://bit.ly/2pTjkSD. Find more information on the show on the Cole Drama Club’s Facebook page here.

Sunday, May 6

May Fair 2018 – ”County Fair” is the theme of this year’s May Fair. The Barbara Tufts Co-op Preschool’s annual event features pony rides, bunnies, games, food, silent auction and lots and lots of fun. As always, at Academy Field from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday, May 13

The Gianna Cirella Memorial 5K Walk/Run

And …

Interested in Running for Office? Here’s a pamphlet from the Secretary of State’s office with everything you need to know. While the period to file to run for office isn’t until June 25-27, there are earlier deadlines, say if you want to change party affiliation before filing to run (that’s March 27-29) or if you plan to run for office but are not yet registered to vote (May 26-28). If you are planning to run and are ready to go public, contact egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

This Week in EG: School Committee, Blood Drive, Rabies Clinic

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Monday, March 19

Exploring Mindfulness Meditation – Meditation at East Greenwich Free Library on first and third Mondays. No experience necessary; all are welcome. Free. 6:30 p.m. at the library. For more information about this program or the Friends of the Library, contact: friendseglibrary@gmail.com.

Coffee With Your Councilor – Town Councilman Mark Schwager will be at Felicia’s from 6 to 7 p.m. to meet with constituents.

EG Tree Committee meeting – Love trees? This is your group! It’s a volunteer group committed to protecting and expanding the urban and suburban forest in our town. Felicia’s Coffee at 7 p.m. [Full disclosure: Editor Elizabeth McNamara is a member.]

Tuesday, March 20

Blood Drive – The town is hosting a blood drive from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bloodmobile parked to Swift Community Center. Consider giving a pint – it will help more than you know. Just show up, or make an appointment here.

EG Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours – At Providence Coal-Fired Pizza, 6105 Post Road in North Kingstown this month, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Members $5; non-members $10.

School Committee meeting – On the agenda, possible votes on the 2018-19 school calendar and the town-school consolidation plan. In the library at Cole Middle School at 7 p.m.

Municipal Land Trust meetingOn the agenda, a report from Patrick McNiff, the tenant of Boesch Farm, and discussion of upcoming events. In Council Chambers at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, March 21

Lunch on the Hill – If you are looking for some good food and company, stop by the dining room at St. Luke’s Church on Peirce Street where you will find both. A free lunch is offered every week, sponsored by various local churches and restaurants – a different church-restaurant combination each week.From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Planning Board meeting – On the agenda, the board will review preliminary plan for “Castle Street Cottages,” a 9-unit residential redevelopment and a final plan review for “Frenchtown Place,” a 11-lot cluster subdivision.

Friday, March 23

Hairspray! Jr. – Hanaford is putting on this musical at the auditorium at East Greenwich High School at 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 24

Rabies Clinic – You can have your dog or cat vaccinated against rabies for only $12 (cash only) at the police department from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Residents and non-residents are welcome. Rhode Island State Law requires that all dogs and cats over the age of four months be vaccinated against rabies.

Hairspray! Jr. – Hanaford is putting on this musical at the auditorium at East Greenwich High School at 4 p.m.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is ON this week.

LOOKING AHEAD

Register for Race to the Stage – Music performers are invited to enter. Winners will get a chance to perform at the annual Summer’s End concert as well as win cash prizes. But you need to register to compete by April 1. Here’s more information.

Thursday, April 5

A Talk w/Providence Dep. Police Chief – Friends of the EG Free Library presents Providence Deputy Police Chief Thomas A. Verdi, who will share what it takes for our community police departments to maintain peace and order in turbulent times. Topics will include “red flags,” active shootings, gun violence, mental health issues, and community partnerships. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the library, 82 Peirce Street.

Friday, April 6

Wine and Wonderful – Tickets are available for the East Greenwich Rotary’s annual food and wine extravaganza at Swift Community Center. Support EG Rotary and all the great programs and organizations it supports. Buy tickets here.

Saturday, April 7

EG Track Club’s 7th Annual Bunny Hop 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run – The East Greenwich Track Club’s 7th Annual Bunny Hop 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run is coming up on Saturday, April 7, starting at 9 a.m. at Goddard Park. Proceeds go towards fully funding the popular Summer Track Series for ages 4-14 (do not have to be an EG resident to participate) on Wednesday nights in July at the EGHS track. We’ve been able to provide the series for free for 6 years. Last summer, 300 children came out during the first week! Find out more and register here.

 



Planning Board Votes Down 13-Unit So. Pierce Road Proposal

The historic farmhouse on the McKenna property.

The decision comes after six hearings on the plan; abutters are pleased but developer says he will appeal to state housing board.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

In the end, developer Tom Primeau wouldn’t further drop the number of units for his proposed “Coggeshall Preserve” on South Pierce Road so after months of hearings, the Planning Board Wednesday night denied the project, saying the project was too dense, not compatible with the neighborhood, had unknown environmental impacts and crowded the historic – if dilapidated – farmhouse on the property.

Primeau said Thursday he will appeal the decision to the State Housing Appeals Board (SHAB).

“A project of such a small magnitude, it’s going to be hard for the state housing board to deny it, especially after we show the lengths we went to,” he said, noting the drop in the number of units, his willingness to clean up what had been used as a private dump and the decision to save the exterior of the historic house.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to your typical NIMBY-ism.”

Neighbors had, in fact, fought the development from the beginning. Many attended all six of the hearings on the project, staying even until midnight on a couple of occasions. After the Planning Board’s vote Wednesday, several expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

“I’m very pleased and I’m glad that the whole board seemed to see it that way too,” said Wayne Savageau, whose house on Taylor Circle abuts the McKenna property. Two buildings in the proposal were sited very close to his property line.

“We think the board has done an excellent job of due diligence,” said Pam Savageau, Wayne’s wife.

“They listened to a lot of the points we made,” added Wayne. “Whichever way it went, they have been very thorough.”

“We’re hopeful but we’re sure that he’s going to appeal it, and that’s going to just drag everything out a lot longer,” said Mallory Walsh, who lives on nearby Power Street.

Primeau had originally sought to build 21 units in duplexes and triplexes on what’s known as the McKenna property on the corner of South Pierce Road and Cora Street, in a neighborhood of largely modest, one-story houses. Over the course of the hearings, he dropped that number to 13 units but that was still well beyond the 8 units deemed appropriate for the lot under residential zoning guidelines (which would be a density bonus of 5 units since the property “by right” would allow only 3 units).

The developer came to the Planning Board looking for a “comprehensive permit,” which can be sought when a development includes a higher number of affordable units than the mandated 10 percent. It fast-tracks the process to encourage developers to build more affordable housing, allowing a project to bypass the Zoning Board and the Town Council and, in this case, the Historic District Commission, with final approval resting with the Planning Board alone.

This property does have challenges when it comes to development.

First, the house on the property is in extremely bad shape but, as one of the oldest houses in Kent County, it retains historic significance. Primeau originally proposed tearing it down and building a structure that would look similar. When the HDC gave an advisory opinion in opposition to that plan, Primeau came back with a new plan that would essentially gut the interior of the building but would retain as much of the exterior of the building as possible, as well as rebuild the chimney, which is of singular historic importance.

In addition, the McKennas had operated a private dump on the 4.6 acre property for decades and it’s unclear what environmental hazards will be found on the site. And, finally, there is a pond on the site and much of the property sits in the floodplain. In his proposal, Primeau said he would work with state agencies to mitigate the environmental issues, including raising the grade in spots if necessary.

He said Thursday all of that work would be costly and awarding a density bonus for the project was appropriate.

“To ask for a few units more for all of that is an incredibly reasonable request,” he said.

“We feel like we followed the law,” said Planning Board Chairman Mike Donegan. “That’s what we tried very hard to do. We had many hearings on this, we took a lot of evidence. We think that we considered all the statutory and local requirements and presented a decision that follows all of that.”

Town officials acknowledge that SHAB usually rules in favor of the developer – the board was designed to favor affordable housing. That’s because most municipalities do not have the requisite 10 percent of their housing stock deemed affordable (*for explanation about affordable, see footnote). East Greenwich’s affordable housing percentage sits at 4.6, which could give Primeau leverage in the appeal.

But Donegan said the town’s Comprehensive Plan (a formal document that acts like a blueprint for the town in terms of future development and was approved by the state) outlines other areas in town for affordable housing and that the McKenna property was not on that map.

“We have recited in the decision all the applications, the number of units we have so far, our record of approving all the comp permits [up to now]. We think we’ll hit our numbers anyway, without approving something that isn’t otherwise approvable,” he said.

Primeau said he was confident in winning the appeal because the Planning Board’s decision “is not supported by the weight of evidence in the record.”

Andrew Teitz, the lawyer for the Planning Board, disagreed with that analysis, noting that typically in cases like this, the developer puts forth a lot of evidence and those in opposition (usually abutters) don’t put up any.

In this case, he said, “you had several of the experts put forth by the neighbors at their own expertise.”

He added, “I think there is much more information in this case in support of the denial then there usually is.”

This would be the first such comprehensive permit appeal for the town. That’s because it’s the first time the Planning Board has denied a comp permit. In his experience, Teitz said, the appeal process could take between one and two years.

  • By state law, municipalities are supposed to have 10 percent of their housing stock in the affordable category. East Greenwich’s affordable percentage is 4.6 percent. To reach 10 percent, East Greenwich would need to add 290 units, according to HousingWorksRI. (Affordable housing is not the same as low- to moderate-income housing. Rather, for home ownership, it is calculated to serve people who make less than 120 percent of the median income for, in this case, Kent County.) The state created the Comprehensive Permit application to help fast-track developments that include affordable housing units since so many communities fall short of the 10 percent goal.

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Corrigan: Firefighter Overtime ‘Will Destroy This Town’

Station One on Main Street.

Meanwhile, call volume has grown more than 100 percent in the 11 years since the number of firefighters was increased.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

East Greenwich, R.I. – At a special Planning Board meeting last Wednesday on 6-year capital budgets, Town Manager Gayle Corrigan said firefighter overtime was potentially ruinous for the town.

“If we don’t do something right now, we are going to have to put $1 million [for overtime] in the firefighter budget for 2019,” she said. “I can’t put $1 million in there. It will destroy this town.”

Corrigan put the blame for that overtime squarely on the firefighters’ current collective bargaining agreement, which does away with four “floater” positions over three years (one per platoon). Floaters – extra staff to cover shifts in case someone’s out on vacation, illness or injury – receive regular pay rather than the time-and-a-half overtime pay.

Of the Town Council’s decision to approve the contracts, Corrigan said, “I find no evidence that they knew what they were signing in 2013. They didn’t do the financial analysis in 2013; it got compounded in 2016.”

Corrigan was repeating the analysis of the former EG Fire District merger with the town that she gave to the Town Council Monday, Feb. 27. Pivoting to the current budget, she told the Planning Board raising taxes by full 4 percent tax increase for Fiscal Year 2019 would give the town an extra $2.25 million in property tax revenue based on this year’s budget, but that “$2.25 million just doesn’t buy you very much,” she said.

In an interview Friday, firefighter union President Bill Perry said the firefighters didn’t bargain for eliminating the floater – they bargained for additional staffing, because of increased call volume and increased mutual aid calls.

“We needed more manpower,” said Perry.

The call volume for East Greenwich grew from 1,806 calls in 2000 to 4,122 in 2017 (EGFD Run Volumes 2000-2017). Through March 3 this year, the EGFD responded to 769 calls. At that rate, they will have 4,500 calls for 2018, a 150 percent increase over 2000.

Since 2000, the number of firefighters has increased from 20 to 36, with all of the increase happening between 2001 and 2006 (8 alone were added in 2002, after a house fire on Peirce Street killed 2 residents). In 2006, the first year there were 36 firefighters, the EG Fire District fielded 2,386 service calls.

Among the reasons for the increased call volume include the addition of several medical office buildings on South County Trail since 2000 and New England Tech’s arrival on Division Street in 2010. NEIT’s new dorm (which opened in September and will hold 400 at capacity) is expected to have an impact going forward. Perry said there have been “dozens” of calls to the dorm since September, for everything from EMS to elevator emergencies to alarms.

Perry said the firefighters knew overtime costs would increase without floaters. Fire overtime was averaging in the $400,000 to $450,000 range until 2015.

“They could hire four floaters and you’d go back to around $400,000 in overtime,” he said, meaning in on top of the four floaters-turned-into permanent-staff in the 2016-19 contract. Additional staff, of course, means additional health care and pension costs.

But Corrigan and the Town Council want contract concessions now, as she explained to the Planning Board Wednesday.

“The town does have a complaint filed with [Superior Court] Judge McGuirl to change the work week now,” she said. The town filed that suit in December. In a letter to residents Dec. 20 Town Council President Sue Cienki said, “After many hours of negotiation with the Union, we thought we had reached a deal; a week or so later, we learned that the Union was unwilling to honor its commitments” (Cienki letter 12:20:17).

The two sides had, in fact, reached a tentative agreement – they shook hands on a deal to reverse the decision on the floaters, bringing them back. But the firefighters strongly disagree with Cienki’s assessment of what happened next.

“We worked out the deal to give them the floater back and they turned down the deal,” he said. “We didn’t even have to negotiate with them – we have a contract through 2019.”

After the handshake deal, town labor lawyer Tim Cavazza wrote up the agreement. Perry said the firefighters were still reviewing that document – “we wanted a couple of wording changes” – when the Town Council voted in executive session Dec. 18 to file suit looking for court permission to impose a 56-hour work week on the firefighters. (Right now, the firefighters work 42 hours a week.)


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This Week in EG: School Panel to Discuss Joint Finance Director   

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Monday, Feb. 5

Library Valentines: Engaged EG is holding a valentine-making session to express your love of libraries – especially the EGHS library, currently closed due to lack of funding for a librarian to staff it. From 4 to 6 p.m. at the EG Free Library on Peirce Street. Stop by with your kids (or without!) to make a valentine or two. Supplies and nut-free snacks will be available.

Tuesday, Feb. 6

Tech Nite at New England Tech – An open house at the East Greenwich campus. From 3 to 7 p.m.

School Committee meeting – On the agenda (find it here), the panel will approve members to an ad hoc revenue committee, which will be looking for ways to raise money for the schools. They will also discuss the 2018-19 school calendar. In the library at Cole Middle School starting at 7 p.m.

Toastmasters International – All are welcome to attend this meeting of the Ocean State Club chapter at Warwick City Hall, 3275 Post Road. From 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, check out their website.

Wednesday, Feb. 7

Lunch on the Hill – If you are looking for some good food and company, stop by the dining room at St. Luke’s Church on Peirce Street where you will find both. A free lunch is offered every week, sponsored by various local churches and restaurants – a different church-restaurant combination each week.From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Public Forum on Homework – All are invited to attend this conversation about homework led by schools Supt. Victor Mercurio. There will be a second forum in January. In the library at Cole Middle School at 6:30 p.m.

Planning Board meeting – On the agenda, the board will take up again the condominium proposal known as Coggeshall Preserve on 62 South Pierce Road, as well as a 16-unit residential proposal for the building at 461 Main Street (just north of Centreville Bank). The board meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 8

Skating Salute to the XXIII Winter Games – The Olympic Winter Games may be taking place in South Korea, but some local skating luminaries will be performing in a special show at the Alex & Ani Skating Rink in downtown Providence. From 5 to 6 p.m. For more information, click here:

School Committee meeting – This is a special meeting to discuss the town-school organizational chart, specifically, how it is working to have a combined town-school finance director. Find the agenda here. In the library at Cole Middle School starting at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 10

Collegia Ancora Concert – A professional chamber choir, Collegia Ancora is dedicated to enriching Rhode Island through the choral arts, performing music from all different time periods, sacred and secular. This concert explores the rich choral madrigal, spiritual and folk traditions. At St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 99 Church St. Tickets $20, $10 for students. 5 p.m.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is ON this week.

Town Boards Need You! – Here’s the list of town boards with vacancies.

  • Affordable Housing Commission
  • Board of Assessment Review
  • Cove Management Commission
  • Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission
  • Historic District Commission
  • Housing Authority
  • Juvenile Hearing Board
  • Municipal Land Trust
  • Planning Board
  • Senior and Community Center Advisory Council

In you are interested, go to www.eastgreenwichri.com/TownGovernment/BoardsCommissions for more information and an application or come to the Town Clerk’s Office at 125 Main Street. Submit applications and resumes to the same address or via email to lcarney@eastgreenwichri.com.


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This Week in EG: MLK Day Holiday, Planning Board, Poetry Slam

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Monday, Jan. 15

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – A national holiday so schools, government offices and many banks are closed. Trash pickup is delayed one day this week.

Want to Help EG Schools Raise Money? The School Committee is establishing an ad hoc committee to “create, review, and implement revenue generating opportunities” for EG schools. They are looking for up to eight parents or guardians to volunteer for the panel. Read the committee’s charge here. If you are interested, contact Supt. Victor Mercurio (vmercurio@egsd.net) by Jan 17.

Tuesday, Jan. 16

Municipal Land Trust meetingOn the agenda is discussion of a ground-mounted solar panel project at Boesch Farm. The panel meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall. 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

Lunch on the Hill – If you are looking for some good food and company, stop by the dining room at St. Luke’s Church on Peirce Street where you will find both. A free lunch is offered every week, sponsored by various local churches and restaurants – a different church-restaurant combination each week.From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Planning Board meeting – On the agenda, the panel will again review the Coggeshall Preserve condo development proposed for 52 So. Pierce Road. The board meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 18

Poetry Slam! – A new group known as the Library Lions is holding this poetry event, where people who attend may read their own poetry or a favorite poem written by someone else, or just listen. The Library Lions formed in response to the lack of a librarian and subsequent closing of the library at EGHS. The event is free, open to all, and will be held at the Westminster Unitarian Church, 119 Kenyon Avenue, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 20

Community Pancake Breakfast – The EG Democratic Town Committee is hosting a pancake breakfast in the dining room at St. Luke’s Church, 9 to 11 a.m. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Sec. of State Nellie Gorbea are scheduled to attend. Click here for more information.

First Ladies’ Fashions – From Martha Washington to Melania Trump, the styles worn by our presidents’ wives have fascinated Americans. Join us on Saturday, Jan. 20, when the Friends of the East Greenwich Library present “First Ladies’ Fashions.” Clothing historian Karen Antonowitz will examine the fashions worn by our first ladies, from Martha to Melania – those who changed contemporary fashion, followed it or had no effect on it at all. In this illustrated program she will explain how the fashions worn by first ladies reflected our society and the history of the time. The program begins at 1 p.m. at the East Greenwich Free Library at 87 Peirce Street. Light refreshments will be served.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is OFF this week.

Register for email updates from the town – Sign up through the town’s Notify Me system and you can receive anything from a weekly email listing meetings and events to targeted emails about specific boards and commissions you are interested in. In addition, you will be notified in case of emergencies (i.e. parking bans, other important information). Click here to get started. And, for those who signed up before August, revisit the link if you have specific topics about which you’d like more information.

Photo: Skating in front of Eldredge Field circa 1970s. The EGFD used to flood the field in the winter to create an ice rink. Photo courtesy of Bruce Mastracchio. Photographer unknown.

This Week in EG: Fire Chief Report; Stone Ridge Candlelight Tour

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Monday, Dec. 4

Exploring Mindfulness Meditation – Meditation at East Greenwich Free Library on first and third Mondays. No experience necessary; all are welcome. Free. 6:30 p.m. at the library. For more information about this program or the Friends of the Library, contact: friendseglibrary@gmail.com.

Town Council meeting – The agenda includes a report from interim Fire Chief Chris Olsen on his first month on the job and, in her report, Town Manager Gayle Corrigan will be recommending a salary structure for department heads and nonunion employees as well as providing an update on a meeting with the Personnel Board. There will also be a work session on the town manager search. The work session starts at 6 p.m. The regular meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Swift Community Center.

Tuesday, Dec. 5

School Committee meeting – On the agenda, the will be updates of the website, the fund balance, and the sewer bill. In addition, there will be discussion of recent enrollment projections and the current budget versus actually spending. In the library at Cole Middle School starting at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 6

Lunch on the Hill – If you are looking for some good food and company, stop by the dining room at St. Luke’s Church on Peirce Street where you will find both. A free lunch is offered every week, sponsored by various local churches and restaurants – a different church-restaurant combination each week.From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Planning Board meeting – The only item on the agenda is a continued discussion of the “Coggeshall Preserve” condominium proposal for 62 South Pierce Road.  The board meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 9

POSTPONED/Annual Stone Ridge Candlelight Tour – Many of those who live on Stone Ridge Drive will be lining their curbs and walkways with luminaria lanterns. This is a tradition spanning more than 30 years – last year the neighborhood was lined with more than 3,700 lanterns. From 5 to 9 p.m. Postponed to Sunday, Dec. 10.

Sunday, Dec. 10

Annual Stone Ridge Candlelight Tour – Many of those who live on Stone Ridge Drive will be lining their curbs and walkways with luminaria lanterns. This is a tradition spanning more than 30 years – last year the neighborhood was lined with more than 3,700 lanterns. From 5 to 9 p.m. .

 

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is OFF this week. Yard waste will be picked up through this week.

Register for email updates from the town – Sign up through the town’s Notify Me system and you can receive anything from a weekly email listing meetings and events to targeted emails about specific boards and commissions you are interested in. In addition, you will be notified in case of emergencies (i.e. parking bans, other important information). Click here to get started. And, for those who signed up before August, revisit the link if you have specific topics about which you’d like more information.

December Holiday Meals – The town’s Senior Services offers holiday meals to needy residents. The deadline to sign up is Wednesday, Dec. 6. To see if you are eligible and to register, contact Carol Tudino at ctudino@eastgreenwichri.com or 401-886-8638.

Developer Proposes Multi-Use Building for Prime Main Street Corner

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The 695 Main Street site as it currently appears.

The empty corner at First Avenue and Main Street – site of a former Sunoco station – has been an eyesore for years but that may finally be changing. At a Planning Board meeting earlier this month, applicant 20 Water Street Realty LLC brought its proposal for 695 Main Street for a pre-application review – a three-story mixed-use building with commercial spaces on the first floor, offices and apartments on the second floor and apartments on the third floor. A total of eight residential apartments are being proposed.

And, in general, the Planning Board liked what it saw.

In the seven years since Sunoco closed the station, the property has sat vacant and, at times, weed strewn. Early on, there was a move afoot to put a Walgreens on the site. That fell apart because of traffic concerns. The site is challenging. It’s not a huge parcel and it’s part of a busy intersection. A drug store would have provided more in-and-out traffic than the lot could bear.

The carwash on Second Street and First Avenue is on a separate lot and would remain.

Later, there was the possibility of a bank for that site. In theory, a bank could have worked, since banks don’t excite huge traffic, but that developer dropped out very early in the process.

More recently, it looked like the site would be home to a used car lot. But the used cars never materialized.

The proposal is similar to the Piazza Zarrella building at 652 Main St., which sits kitty-corner to 695 Main Street. That building has commercial businesses at street level (a lighting store, a photographer, a lawyer) and apartments upstairs, with parking behind. The new proposal would place the building right on the First Avenue and Main Street corner, with parking on the Second Avenue side. The carwash on Second Street and First Avenue is on a separate lot and would remain. There would be entrances to the parking area on First Avenue, Main Street and Second Street.

A pre-application review is non-binding. Rather, it’s an opportunity for a developer to show the Planning Board what it wants to do and get feedback. This was the developer’s second visit before the Planning Board and members were more favorable this time. In particular, members liked that the building was now flush with the street and provided more of a “gateway” appearance at an intersection that is considered the southern entry point to East Greenwich’s main downtown section.

The Planning Department’s staff report noted that the project would need approval from the Historic District Commission, since the property lies within the Downtown Historic District. In addition, while the parking plan seemed appropriate, if someone wanted to open a restaurant on the first floor, the report said, “the parking calculation would need to be re-examined.”

The next step for the project is Master Plan approval.

This Week In EG: Last Farmers Market of Season! Town Council Meeting!

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

EG Farmers Market ends Monday, Oct. 2.

Monday, 10/2 

EG Farmers Market (LAST DAY!) – Sad to say, today is the final day of the EG Farmers Market for this year. Stock up on local meat products, bakery items, and fall produce right here in town while you still can! On the grassy area next to Eldredge Elementary on First Avenue, from 2 to 6 p.m.

Town Council meeting – The Town Council Rules & Guidelines are again on agenda, but no draft was made available in advance of the meeting. The draft that was tabled at last week’s meeting. Also, it looks like the council will be discussing the job performance of Fire Chief McGillivary, on the agenda as an item in executive session. Discussion of hiring a new town manager is not on the agenda, despite two council members saying they wanted it there at last week’s meeting.  Here’s the agenda. 7 p.m. at Swift Community Center.

Tuesday, 10/3

School Committee meeting – An update on transportation issues and the current budget are among the items on the agenda. The meeting is held in the library at Cole Middle School at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, 10/4

The proposed Coggeshall Preserve development calls for this house to be taken down and a replica built nearby.

Planning Board meeting – On the agenda, the board will hear the Final Plan Review for The Residences at Middleberry, the development on Middle Road across from Pine Glen, as well as a continuation of the hearing on the proposed Coggeshall Preserve 16-unit condominium development for 62 South Pierce Road. In Council Chambers at Town Hall, 7 p.m.

Thursday, 10/5

EGHS Open House

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is ON this week.

EG Restaurant Week (thru Oct. 8) – Participating restaurants are running specials through Sunday and they include Besos, Cobblestone’s, Cowesett Inn, Dante’s Kitchen, DiMare Restaurant, Eleven Forty Nine, End Zone Pub & Grille, Feast Sandwich Company, Felicia’s Coffee, Finn’s Harborside, Fitzy’s Pub, Frank & John’s, Fresco, Greenwich Bay Oyster Bar, The Grille on Main, Jason’s Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Jigger’s, Johnny Granata’s, Kai Bar, Kon Asian Bistro, La Masseria, Main Street Coffee, McKinley’s Pub, Meritage, Pal’s Restaurant, Papa Franco, Piezoni’s, Pizza Heaven, Providence Coal Fired Pizza, Raku Sakura,  RASA, Red Stripe, Richard’s Pub, Ritrovo, Rocco’s Bistro, Safe House, Siena (EG), Silver Spoon Bakery, T’s Restaurant (EG), The Trap, Tio Mateo’s/Greenwich Bay Gourmet, and Twisted Pizza.

EG public schools fundraiser for hurricane relief It started at Meadowbrook, but quickly moved to include all six EG public schools, a fundraiser for school district devoted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Students are raising money at school as well and that money will be included in the overall donation. The goal is $5,000. Donate here.

Register for email updates from the town – Sign up through the town’s Notify Me system and you can receive anything from a weekly email listing meetings and events to targeted emails about specific boards and commissions you are interested in. In addition, you will be notified in case of emergencies (i.e. parking bans, other important information). Click here to get started. And, for those who signed up before August, revisit the link if you have specific topics about which you’d like more information.

LOOKING AHEAD

9th Annual Evening With Authors – Robin Kall is back with Evening with Authors Wednesday, Nov. 1 at the Greenwich Odeum and the lineup is impressive. Featured authors are Alice Hoffman (The Rules of Magic), Wiley Cash (The Last Ballad) and Nicole Krauss (Forest Dark). Enjoy an evening of lively conversation moderated by Kall. Registration begins at 6 p.m. with the formal program beginning at 7. Tickets are $50 and proceeds benefit the Gloria Gemma Foundation. Brown University Bookstore will have the three titles available for purchase and autographing. In addition, books are available for pre-order at a discount through Brown. Email robin@readingwithrobin.com for more info on pre-sales and visit Evening With Authors on Facebook or www.robinkall.com for more information.

Planning Board Weighs 16-Unit So. Pierce Development, Including 1700s House Demo

The Planning Board is in the middle of reviewing a proposal from East Greenwich developer Tom Primeau, who wants to build 16 condominiums (a collection of duplexes and triplexes) on the 5.4 acre site at 62 South Pierce Road at Cora Street.

The development, called Coggeshall Preserve, is hotly contested by neighbors. The initial public hearing on Primeau’s Comprehensive Permit application, on Aug. 2, was filled with abutting and nearby residents. After Primeau’s development team made its presentation, the public was allowed to comment. The meeting went four hours before the Planning Board finally called a halt just after 11 p.m. because there were several more people who wanted to comment on the development. The board will take up the hearing again at its meeting Sept. 20.

A Comprehensive Permit is allowed when a developer includes units deemed “affordable.” Coggeshall Preserve would include four affordable units. That enables the proposal to bypass the Zoning Board, the Town Council and, in this case, the Historic District Commission, with final approval coming from the Planning Board alone (but a Planning Board imbued with the powers of the other boards).

By state law, municipalities are supposed to have 10 percent of their housing stock in the affordable category. East Greenwich’s affordable percentage is 4.6 percent. To reach 10 percent, East Greenwich would need to add 290 units, according to HousingWorksRI. (Affordable housing is not the same as low- to moderate-income housing. Rather, for home ownership, it is calculated to serve people who make less than 120 percent of the median income for, in this case, Kent County.) The state created the Comprehensive Permit application to help fast-track developments that include affordable housing units since so many communities fall short of the 10 percent goal.

The town’s Staff Report (find it here: Planning Dept. Staff Report – 62South Pierce) notes that several of the planned residences are on federally designated floodplain areas and that “local regulations call for all lands designated as floodplain or other flood hazard area to remain in an open space or undeveloped state.” Primeau’s team is seeking a floodplain map amendment through FEMA but the staff report recommends the developer be prepared to reduce the number of units if he does not get a map amendment.

In addition, the Department of Public Works has concerns about stormwater retention structures in the flood zone. Those too would need to be relocated, the report said.

“Granting this waiver is not recommended at this time,” the report reads.

Project engineer Nicole Reilly of DiPrete Engineering said the site had different elevations and that the developer planned to raise the elevation of the site to above-floodplain levels.

The chimney is perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of this house built circe 1705.

A sticking point for neighbors of 62 South Pierce is the planned demolition of the main house on the property, which was built around 1705, making it one of the oldest structures in East Greenwich. The house has a distinctive chimney that Primeau said he will replicate in a new building near the site of the original house and the plan calls for useable materials to be salvaged from the original building and used if possible in the new building.

“The site itself and the home are in derelict condition,” said William Landry, lawyer for Primeau, at the hearing Aug. 2. “We are proposing to deconstruct it, move it and rebuild it using new materials … and retaining the chimney structure.”

“The hope is the historic reconstruction will read like a structure that has always been on the street and the realigning residences will look like a neighborhood that’s developed through time around the ‘old’ house,” said project architect David Okerlund.

The McKenna family has owned the property for decades.
The back of the house includes additions that are in particularly bad shape, according to an engineer working for the developer.

Structural and civil engineer Craig Carrigan inspected the building for Primeau in March. He said the house had seen too much damage and deferred maintenance through the years to be saved.

“This is one of four structures I’ve seen in my career that you can’t save,” he said. “There’s too much gone at this point to actually bring it back. I can’t figure out how to fix this one. There’s too much damage.”

But one neighbor, during public comment, took issue with those assertions.

Stephen Tyson, who lives a block away and is president of Architectural Preservation Group, said he had restored many structures in similar shape to 62 South Pierce Road.

“The structural problems that were testified to earlier, they are something I do in my sleep,” said Tyson, who has served on EG’s Historic District Commission. “To say this building is falling down is a mischaracterization. It is definitely savable and I think for a reasonable price.”

While the Historic District Commission has no purview over this project since it is applying under Comprehensive Permit guidelines, the Planning Board voted Aug. 2 to refer the project to the HDC for an advisory opinion.

Another issue for nearby residents was the lack of single-family houses and the proximity of two of the structures to houses on Taylor Circle. In particular, a driveway would be within 50 feet of Pam and Wayne Savage’s house and only a few feet from their property line (seen in the photo below, marked with string). The couple have lived in their house, which abuts the McKenna property, for 40 years.

Wayne and Pam Savageau have lived in this house on Taylor Circle for 40 years, but the property line sits within feet of the back of the house.

“It was our starter house that ended up being our last house,” Wayne joked during the Planning Board’s visit to the site Aug. 5. “We took care of this part,”  he said gesturing to the area beyond the staked property line. “We wanted to buy another 30 to 40 feet but they wouldn’t sell,” he said of the McKenna family. “We didn’t know this was coming.”

Most of the McKenna property is overgrown. A pond on the site is completely obscured by vegetation. Donald McKenna, who was a janitor at Meadowbrook Farm school for many years, lived in the house with his brother but recently moved to Coventry to live with his daughter after his brother’s death. The land has been in the McKenna family for decades. Some in the neighborhood remember skating on the pond in winter. And everyone knew that the McKennas allowed dumping on the site. Primeau plans extensive remediation of the property, but the state Department of Environmental Management will have to evaluate the condition of the property since there are complaints about dumping dating to the 1970s.

The property has been on the market on and off for years, with the price tag as high as $1 million at one point, according to neighbors. Primeau is buying it for $250,000. His company, Philip Ryan Homes Ltd., is also behind a proposed 43-unit development on Middle Road just east of South County Trail (across from Pine Glen) as well as Fry Brook, a condominium complex off Middle Road just west of South County Trail. Fry Brook was largely completed in 2009 but Primeau still has not built a culvert that was part of the plan. He was before the Town Council in July seeking another extension – finishing the culvert has been tied to permission to build the 43 units on Middle Road. Primeau said the culvert would be done by the end of September and the council granted him an extension.

In an interview, Primeau blamed the poor economy for his failure to complete the Fry Brook culvert, but also placed responsibility with the town.

“The development was done. The houses were built, the roads were paved, the people were happy,” he said. “It wasn’t the right time to take care of it. If the town wanted to do it so bad, they could have pulled the performance bond,” he said. “Now, they have a culvert that’s going to be 10 years newer.”

Primeau said he’s not building single family homes on the South Pierce Road site because the market isn’t calling for single family homes in that area.

“We don’t think that’s the market. We think the market’s more for young professionals and that type of buyer more than single family homes,” he said, noting that the land was “on the cusp, on the outlying edges of a single family neighborhood…. It’s in a transitional area.”

As for neighbor complaints, Primeau said that’s part of the process when you’re a developer.

“They don’t want it developed. Everybody thinks they own it when they don’t. There’s going to be screening and landscaping. We’re providing affordable housing for the community. We’re providing tasteful moderate income housing.”

The Planning Board won’t resume the Coggeshall Homes public hearing until on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The panel meets next on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, and on that agenda is Final Plan Review of Tom Primeau’s Middle Road development. Find the agenda here.

– Elizabeth F. McNamara