Letter to the Editor: Division Road Development Will Impact Us All

by | Jul 12, 2023

By Michelle M. Thomas

I am writing to all of those residing in East Greenwich. There is a proposal that will be decided on soon that will have an effect on all of us.  

As most of you are aware, we need affordable housing in East Greenwich and my hope is that most of you are in favor of that happening. However, there is currently a situation where a developer has submitted a proposal to circumvent most of the usual processes for approval. He would like to develop land that is currently zoned as rural and build 410 homes with 25 percent of them being deemed affordable. The issue is with the high density of this project. This would be an enormous development west of Route 2.  

This will impact you and the health and safety of our town!

Our schools would need to accommodate numerous new students. Our teachers, police and fire personnel will be enormously impacted due to the sheer number of new residents.

Our roads will deteriorate from too much traffic that they were not built to accommodate. There is already flooding on Division Road with every rain storm. The safety of those roads will suffer and subsequently more police, and fire will be required due to the potential accidents. 

The environment will suffer. Green space allows for noise reduction and helps to absorb some of the gasses released from the volume of traffic on the highway. There will be an increase in pollution and illness related to it.

This was deemed a rural area by the town and without any warning and due to the 25 percent number of affordable units the builder used to bypass the usual constraints of development, the environment, the historic cemeteries, the animals and the ecosystem will all suffer.

We need affordable housing in East Greenwich however the enormity and scope of this project should be decreased.

I am pleading with all of you to attend the town meeting on July 19, by Zoom or in person.  

Michelle M Thomas lives in East Greenwich.

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Lisa
Lisa
July 14, 2023 6:39 am

You are 100% correct. What are our state and local representatives doing to combat this? It’s been on the horizon for quite some time now.

Annmarie
Annmarie
July 14, 2023 6:48 am

For those who live west of route 2, the current increase in traffic now is already a problem. At busy times of day, there is traffic at the intersection of Division and Shippeetown. Middle road is also backed up at the light on Route 2. When there is an accident on 95, Division is an alternate route. These rural roads cannot accept more traffic.

Chris
Chris
July 14, 2023 9:51 am

Yes tell the “ traffic experts” assessing this development and its impact , to be on Division Road, Route 2 , Frenchtown Road, and all adjoining suburban family neighborhood roads from 7-10am and from 3-7 pm on Monday to Friday, and in the summer on weekends. Traffic, car carriers , trucks , commuting residents backed up everywhere in EG …it’s like NJ /NYC gridlock in our town, with numerous accidents, speeding cars cutting through neighborhoods off of main highways, we all have a huge problem. Now add the 400 more housing units with a low estimate of 800 more cars to our area roads and make that probably more like 1,200 with added teen drivers, and an added car. Years ago, at a town council meeting, traffic experts said the intersection of Division and Route 2 would not pose a traffic issue with shopping plaza, movie theater, restaurants, and now more .. because of the use of traffic lights … sooo how’s that working? Not. Ask EGPD and FD how many accidents a day they respond to there, and surrounding intersections.

The towns in RI and their residents need to take a stand saying no to the state and for our legislature to reconsider the current unreasonable affordable housing demands. It’s the ole tail wagging the dog scenario, a few benefit but many pay the true impact price and the only ones really benefiting are the developers using the mandates to their own huge financial gain, by holding towns hostage to it.

The letter above is 100% correct. The entire town of EG, its residents, town services, schools, road traffic,
all will feel the numerous negative impacts from this highly dense housing cluster development. It needs to be stopped as it’s currently planned.

K.T.
K.T.
July 14, 2023 10:20 am

Go Woke Go Broke! Rich Elites destroying this Town since the 1980s ! I wonder how many political palms have been greased over the years for favorable decisions!

Catherine Rodgers
Catherine Rodgers
July 14, 2023 12:08 pm

Hold your elected officials accountable next November. Both Rep. Caldwell and Sen. Valverde voted to approve a whole slew of new housing laws that actually take local control away after they promised at the last candidate forum that they would restore local control to East Greenwich. And our town council could have written a resolution asking them to enhance local control, but they didn’t. Our town council could have joined Senator Gordon Rogers’s coalition of rural municipalities fighting at the state level to make it possible for local planning boards to manage growth responsibly. But they didn’t.

Jeffrey Goldwasser
Jeffrey Goldwasser
July 14, 2023 1:41 pm

State law requires East Greenwich to maintain 10% of its year-round housing stock as affordable housing. Currently, the town is at 5.67% — not the lowest in the state, but nowhere near the 10% requirement. We are some 300 units short of the requirement. According to Michelle Thomas, the proposed development would only add 102 affordable units, about a third of what it would take us to reach the legally required minimum number of affordable housing units.

Am I missing something here? Michelle Thomas says she is in favor of affordable housing in East Greenwich, but she says that the current proposal is too big and that its “enormity and scope” needs to be decreased. I am tempted to believe that many who claim to support affordable housing are just paying lip service, but when it comes to actually building new units, it all evaporates in NIMBY refusal.

What is East Greenwich’s actual plan to comply with state law regarding affordable housing? Rhode Island is in a housing crisis. Young and poor families cannot afford to live in Rhode Island because rents are out of control. The lack of affordable housing is also an issue that effects us all — it is a leading barrier to Rhode Island’s economic development.

Justin Cahir
Justin Cahir
July 14, 2023 4:03 pm

Jeffrey- if there are 400+ units being being and only 102 are affordable you’re adding 300+ unaffordable units. It wouldn’t be a third of the way there, we’d actually be decreasing the % of affordable units in the town. That’s what Michelle is saying is too big. This is a flawed law that allows developers to circumvent towns choices. Our elected officials need to address this and all I’ve heard is crickets. Soon we won’t even hear those because all our green space will be gone.

Jay
Jay
July 15, 2023 8:07 pm

You’re not missing anything but nimby Jeffrey.

If 25% of the development is affordable, which 100/400 is, then it will put a good size dent in the shortage. People were whining about the new Neon was going to be increase traffic, and they’ve been open over a month now with literally no effect on traffic.

michelle thomas
michelle thomas
July 17, 2023 2:26 pm

Jeffrey, I would applaud the builder if he chose to put 100 affordable homes on this land however, if you read my letter, it is the 300 unaffordable homes that are the issue. The entire scope and density of this proposal will have a negative impact on East Greenwich for the reasons that I listed in the letter. Clearly, you have misinterpreted my position and values.

Sandra S.
Sandra S.
July 14, 2023 9:37 pm

The development is NOT were the developers are going to live! They could care less about the number of cars there is going be on the town roadways. Any environmental problems the development may or may not cause is of really no concern apparently to them. Remember they won’t be living there.! Also remember 400 + homes equals 800+cars, plus school buses , delivery trucks , garbage trucks etc.

Greg
Greg
July 15, 2023 8:11 am

Meeting is 7/19 at 7pm town hall.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87956425086

RS
RS
July 16, 2023 10:40 am

I support the reduction of the overall number of housing units proposed. Michelle is exactly right when she warns about the increased adverse affects this will have on town infrastructure. Just last night I was driving on Division and almost hit a deer, a reminder that we are in a rural area that we should work to preserve! Building affordable units is important, adding the additional unaffordable units – all 300 – is too much for our town, our neighborhood! Will certainly be attending the meeting this Wednesday.

Anna Giuliani
Anna Giuliani
July 17, 2023 10:55 am

Though we do not live in the area, we are totally against this. Yes, adding more homes will definitely create new taxes for the town, however, it will definitely over tax the infrastructure. Will certainly check in on the Town Hall meeting tonight via the web. Thanks, Greg for providing the link.

TC
TC
July 18, 2023 9:58 am

This development will do nothing but put us farther behind as a town with traffic, and it will change the landscape more than we can imagine. In a prior Town Council meeting, the estimate was that these 410+ units will add an estimated 3300 car trips daily to Division road- as it’s a rural development they will have to drive for everything. Imagine that, 3300 added to today’s already increasing numbers of cars on a two-lane, no shoulder road- it’s a safety disaster waiting to happen.

Affordable housing doesn’t have to be condos and high density housing, give the residents yards and places for families to live. The developer only here for the profit from this- he doesn’t care about EG, the traffic, safety of our residents, or the environmental disaster he’s creating- he cares about the money. If the zoning is kept as it currently stands these 80 acres would be for 40 houses, each on 2 acres, not 410+.

If we aren’t seeing the environmental impact from all of the development happening here and in other towns and cities, then we’re going to be slapped in the face after the clear cutting of 80+ acres in a rural area- especially on a land parcel next to I-95. The wildlife and forest that is currently there will be decimated, and the noise pollution will impact everyone within at least a mile radius of the development. Middle road and Shippeetown will become cut-throughs and have their own safety and environmental impacts.

Others have already mentioned the school and city services so I won’t touch on those- but think, where does the budget come from to support this 10% population increase?? Definitely not the developer.

Ned Capozzi is circumventing a process to work with the town on his development by using loopholes and also because he knows this wouldn’t fit the current comprehensive plan’s mission: keep East Greenwich a wonderful place for all to live as it grow.

We need more affordable housing, we welcome that- but not at this scale. I challenge Mr. Capozzi to shrink this development by at least half and make it 50% affordable housing – homes with yards- giving residents a truly wonderful place to live and decrease the impact on safety, the environment, and the impact on our town. Build a beautiful neighborhood with a true park and place people want to live in.

Our elected officials are sadly missing from this discussion, and that shows such a lack of connection with the communities that elected them, and it will be remembered next election. They need to work across the aisle with their colleagues to close these loopholes for developers and put more power back with the towns.

Please attend the Planning Board meeting tomorrow in-person or online, and write Justine Caldwell, Bridget Valverde, Seth Magaziner, and Dan McKee – they should all be fighting for ways to find ways to help us grow our town in a responsible way, not handing us over to the developers.

Lauren
Lauren
July 19, 2023 6:57 pm

It’s really sad to see the impact that the greediness of the developer will have on our rural part of town. Not to mention how 400 new families will impact our school system which is already crowded. Division is a one lane street that can’t support this added traffic.

Yes, EG needs affordable housing but not at the expense of our town infrastructure.

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