The plan calls for the so-called ‘Green Monster’ at the back of 461 Main to be turned into townhouses.
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The Planning Board gave what’s known as master plan approval to a development for 461 Main Street that would create 3 commercial spaces and 15 residential units on the site in a mix of redevelopment and new construction. The approval is only the second of a four-part process the developer must go through before building can begin.
Even though none of the commercial spaces could be used as a restaurant, the big issue for the Planning Board was parking. According to the town’s parking ordinance, a development of this size requires 47 off-street parking spaces but the 461 Main St. plan offers 38, a deficit of 9 spaces.
While the front of 461 Main Street would not change significantly, the back part of the property would be substantially altered. The plan calls for demolition of the the so-called “Green Monster” warehouse building at the back of the property, to be replaced by townhouses. The commercial spaces will, as now, remain on the first floor; residential units will be added on the second floor.
The property fronts on Main Street, Liberty Street, and Union Street. The developer is East Greenwich Partners, LLC, managed by Ann Marie DaSilva.
With 4 of the 15 residential units classified as “deed-restricted affordable,” the developer is able to seek a comprehensive permit, which fast-tracks the development by cutting down on the number of boards that need to sign off. Comp permits, as they are known, are reviewed solely by the Planning Board, which is imbued with the powers of any other boards, such as the Zoning Board, which rules on such things as variances for setbacks and the number of parking spaces.
The Planning Board questioned the developer’s lawyer, Matthew Callaghan, extensively about parking.
“We like the project; we don’t like the parking,” said Planning Board Chairman Mike Donegan.
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The board included a provision in the master plan approval that the developer secure a “long-term lease or other arrangement” with a nearby business with potentially extra parking. As it happens, Centreville Bank, right next door to 461 Main St., does have excess parking spaces and it has expressed willingness to discuss the situation.
During public comment on the project, Steve Erinakes said he was concerned overflow parking would end up in his lot at 500 Main Street, across the street.
After the meeting, Liberty Street resident Camille Speca expressed concerns about parking and density.
“I am thrilled that they are developing this space – the property is an eyesore,” she said. “My trepidation is that the infrastructure, meaning roads etc, will be extremely taxed with such an influx of new residents.”
Speca noted that another, formerly vacant, lot on Union Street, directly across from 461 Main St., is being developed into a two-family unit and that Union Street is very narrow and has no sidewalks.
“Overall I applaud the developers but feel the number of units is far too many for this neighborhood and will really impact the quality of life for existing residents. I would ask that they consider lowering the number of units,” she said.
With the master plan approved, the developer must now get all the necessary state permits and engineering done before they submit their preliminary plan for review. They will also be seeking an advisory opinion from the Historic District Commission. The property falls within the town’s Historic District but because of the expedited comp permit process, the developer does not need HDC approval. The Planning Board will be able to use the HDC advisory opinion in its deliberations.