Above: The town’s Technical Review Committee met in Council Chambers Tuesday to discuss the proposed Division Road Neighborhood project.
Next stop: Planning Board public hearing April 19
It’s been nine months since a 410-unit housing development proposed by Ned Capozzi had come before a Town of East Greenwich board for review, but the Division Road project returned Tuesday (3/14/23), where it was discussed at the Technical Review Committee meeting in preparation for a public hearing before the Planning Board on April 19. TRC meetings are where officials from various town departments (public works, planning, fire, community services, and town administration) kick the tires, so to speak, on a new proposal, trying to anticipate all the different questions that could come up during the public vetting process at the Planning Board level.
Capozzi has applied for what’s known as a “comprehensive permit,” where in exchange for offering at least 25 percent of the plan as deed-restricted affordable housing units, the developer gets a density bonus. The General Assembly made this law to promote more affordable housing, removing some local regulatory oversight in the process. For comp permits, projects don’t need zoning variances (that density bonus); the project only needs approval from the Planning Board.
The Division Road Neighborhood project would include 202 single family units, 72 units in smaller apartment buildings, and 136 units in larger apartment buildings, for a total of 410 units, and would include a large “central green” park.
It had stalled while Capozzi sought approvals from the Kent County Water Authority (for water service) and the towns of Coventry and West Warwick (for sewer service). The project now has the needed “will serve” letters from those entities.
At the TRC meeting Tuesday morning, Bill Landry, lawyer for Capozzi, told officials the project would build a private sewer line that would extend under Route 95, hook up with the Coventry sewer line in the vicinity of New London Turnpike and continue on to the West Warwick wastewater treatment facility (Coventry has some sewer capacity at the West Warwick plant).
Securing the sewer use approval was particularly important. Without it, the density of the project would have been severely hindered, since otherwise it would have to rely on septic systems that require a lot more land per unit. With a promise of a sewer hook up with West Warwick (via Coventry), the plan for 410 units remains viable.
Landry also spoke about the roads through the project, which had been a source of concern for public safety officials. Capozzi is presenting this project as private, with private roads and utilities, but private roads that don’t adhere to public width standards can be difficult for fire trucks to navigate. In this latest iteration, the project would have a mix of public and private roads. There would be one main 65-foot road that extends from one entrance to the other in an upside down V shape through the development. Off of that would be 55-foot-wide secondary roads and off of those secondary roads there would be 20-foot-wide short access roads.
Landry said Capozzi had agreed to make the main road public but on Tuesday, Town Planner Al Ranaldi said the town would prefer the entire project have private roads, while retaining the widths presented. After the meeting, Ranaldi said having a mix of roads would result in private and public snow plowing and garbage collection and since the sewer and other utilities were not affiliated with the town, there was no need for that kind of access. Landry said the developer would agree to having all-private roads.
Landry also raised an issue that has come up in the past with developments that are proposed and built as “private.” Once the homeowner’s association really takes over, sometimes they appeal that private status to the town, arguing they are paying taxes for town services they cannot access. Landry said the developer was planning to include language in the agreements to forestall that.
“We have a unique ability … to provide notice that these are private,” said Landry, “that these issues are going to have to be covered by the condo association.”
Regarding traffic, Landry said Division Road was built to support more traffic than it currently has at that stretch and New London Turnpike could accommodate the increased traffic as well. As proposed, the development would have two ways in and out, both connecting with Division Road. The property does not have access to any other road, hence the reliance on Division Road for all access.
It remains unclear just how the project would be phased. Landry noted they would be required to build one affordable unit for every four market-rate ones, pointing to the likelihood of building the larger apartment buildings first.
After the meeting, one of the residents of the Westfield Farms neighborhood across from the planned development said he and others were getting involved to try to influence the final outcome.
“We’re not after stopping it. We are after mitigating it,” said Paul Liu. He said there was a worry that traffic would cut through his neighborhood to get to Middle Road. Liu and his wife, Sallyanne Lund, have lived there for more than 20 years. Fellow Westfield resident Greg Weiss just moved in last year.
“I didn’t know this was being contemplated,” he said.
Find all the stories about the Division Road Neighborhood project HERE.
Goodbye to E.G. as we knew it.
Sickening how all these open spaces are being gobbled up by corporations and taking over acres of land. And shame on all town leaders that have their hands in this and vote yes. Let them go to other states with more open space.
Apartment buildings…..200 homes….a pipe going under 95…..division road is not “built to handle more traffic ” this is not the area for such a project….
This will obviously be a tough one for our town to absorb. One development alone will increase the total town population by almost 10%!!! Yet the state won’t let us us these projected numbers when seeking matching funds from the state. Uggh.
After roughly 100 affordable housing units in this development, will we finally meet the “requirements”???
If not, it’s time to get a new game plan. Towns like ours in other states have avoided some of these affordable housing driven monstrosities by building their own affordable housing…better to put in a smaller 30-40 unit development than a 400 unit one.
I can’t believe the Town allowed this to go through, who got paid off? We do not have the resources to serve additional housing like this! Our first responders are being crushed by all the calls to medical offices and are completely understaffed. The schools are overcrowded with 25+ students for each teacher in most all classes! I bet our taxes won’t go down either, always up up up, despite having an influx of money from this development. Are they building a new fire station, school, or adding any playgrounds/public access areas? The developer should have to give money towards public safety, schools, and parks/rec. I can’t wait to vote again, hopefully people in this town will wake up!
The development has not yet been voted on. There is a public hearing April 19 at 7 p.m.
Concerned residents, irrespective of their party affiliation, can join together to seek these proposed solutions. (Please scroll down the page to the topic of the Division Road development): https://www.egrtc.org/current-issues