Above: A drawing of the proposed Division Road development submitted at the June Planning Board meeting.
The residential development would be the largest ever seen in East Greenwich
The developer looking to build 410 housing units on Division Road has asked for the Planning Board to consider his “master plan” application in September instead of at its meeting Aug. 17. The master plan phase is a developer’s first stop in the town regulatory process – it’s where a developer submits conceptual plans for what he or she is looking to build, including where it would be built and the number of units.
According to Town Planner Al Ranaldi, developer Ned Capozzi has not addressed all of the town’s initial concerns so he asked to be put on a September meeting agenda instead. There are two Planning Board meetings in September – the 7th or the 21st. Ranaldi said he anticipated the Division Road development would be on the Sept. 21 agenda. There is a clock running on the Planning Board’s actions – it has 120 days from the time the application is certified to made its ruling. Because Capozzi has sought postponements, the town has asked him for extensions to the 120 day rule, which he has granted. Right now, the Planning Board has until Sept. 30 to decide on the master plan.
Even once Capozzi has answered those questions Ranaldi referred to, a lot of questions aren’t even on the table until the second phase, when Capozzi would go for preliminary plan approval. So, between this first step (master plan) and the second step (preliminary plan), lots of what Ranaldi called “hard engineering” will need to be done – like how exactly does the plan handle sewer, water, drainage, and traffic. This particular development has some hurdles since the developer has said it would get sewer and water from Coventry and West Warwick.
If the Planning Board approves a master plan and the plan changes a lot at the preliminary plan phase because of what’s uncovered during that hard engineering, a developer probably would have to return to the master plan phase. In other words, it makes sense for a developer to feel like what is approved at master plan is viable.
Ultimately, the EG Planning Board will have to decide whether to approve or refuse the master plan. If it refuses, Capozzi will almost certainly appeal that decision to the State Housing Appeal Board (SHAB) and that board’s whole reason for existence is to increase affordable housing. Capozzi is promising that a quarter of the proposed units would be deed-restricted affordable. That high percentage gives the developer leverage because the town is only about halfway toward the state-mandated goal of 10 percent affordable housing per community. In other words, with near certainty, SHAB would rule in Capozzi’s favor.
The public hearing on the master plan remains open so the public is invited to weigh in. Ranaldi said he has received around 20 letters and emails from residents on the issue. There will also be public comment at the September meeting.
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