Planning Board Approves 12-Unit Franklin Terrace

by | Apr 19, 2022

Above: The 12-unit Franklin Terrace development planned for behind Anderson’s Ski & Dive.

Middle Road rooftop solar project also gets the nod

The Planning Board approved 12 residential condominiums off Franklin Road earlier this month in a 5-0 vote. Property owner John Holmander had originally proposed a microbrewery for the site, which is located behind Anderson’s Ski & Dive on Post Road. 

Residents from the nearby River Farm neighborhood had raised objections to the microbrewery plan and the project did not get very far before Holmander opted to go with a residential development instead. By making 3 of the 12 units affordable, Holmander was able to apply for a “comprehensive permit” – a state-enabled incentive allowing developers to build more units then would normally be allowed without a zoning variance. The threshold for comprehensive permits is 25 percent affordable, exactly what the Franklin Terrace project plans.

The project gained initial Planning Board approval last June (read more HERE). This final approval means construction can begin on the two-building project. Each building will have six two-story townhouses, each with two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a one-car garage in front. All traffic would flow in and out of Franklin Road, a connector that links Post Road to River Farm. 

At the April 6 meeting, three River Farm residents spoke in opposition to the project, but some of their objections were over issues – such as the number of units – that were already approved in the “master plan” phase. 

One objection was over potential flooding with the new development but the project engineer said all runoff will be contained on the property, with roofs draining into the central driveway or into pipes that feed into a “cultec” runoff system. 

Another concern had been about the increased traffic that could result from 12 new residences. “We don’t think there will be any traffic issues,” said Joe Giordano, traffic engineer for the developer. He said any other use for the property would create heavier traffic than what is now planned. “A 12-unit residential development is a very low traffic generator,” he said.

Chestnut Drive resident Andrew Shartenberg’s property abuts Franklin Terrace. He said he just bought his house in October and said the landscaping plan did not provide enough privacy. While there are extensive new plantings planned for other sides of the property, the western side – the side that abuts Shartenberg – has a number of existing trees. They are, however, deciduous, so they will be bare during the winter.

He also said he would prefer fewer units but board Chair Ben Lupovitz said there was nothing the Planning Board could do at this point regarding the number of units. 

Another nearby resident, David Gesawich, said he was concerned that in the event of a power outage, sewage would back up, since the Franklin Terrace units will rely on an electric grinder to move sewage up to the main line. He said they would need a generator. 

The engineer for the project said there would be a generator installed. The development will need to provide an annual report to the town that it is keeping up the pump station as well.

Lawyer for the town Peter Skwirz said the challenge with comprehensive permit projects is if the town were to deny approval, the developer could then appeal to the state Housing Appeal Board (SHAB) which almost always sides with the developer since the state mandate is to provide affordable housing. Each city and town is required to have 10 percent of its housing stock in the affordable category – East Greenwich is at just over 5 percent. 

The board also approved a rooftop solar panel project for 816 Middle Road, a commercial building with a 14,619 sq. ft. roof that sits between Sweet Peas Village and Middleberry condominiums.

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13 Comments

  1. Joshua

    Condos or Apartments?

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      Condos. Sorry for not stating that!

      Reply
  2. Bill Welsh

    Thank you for the update on the approval of the Franklin Road Project. I think the Town has done a disservice to the River Farm neighborhood by approving this project. I am not an advocate of blocking landowners from development; however, most reasonable people would agree that dropping a 12-unit residential in the back yard of a retail establishment and then promoting the approval as a positive development for the community is at best laughable. The River Farm community has raised legitimate concerns that have largely been ignored. Well financed developers can hire the best-in-class lawyers, landscape architects and traffic engineers to achieve the desired outcome and get little or no resistance from the Town. We need more qualified professionals to assist the Planning Committee volunteers or the continual quest to allow unchecked development will only serve to diminish the beauty and character of East Greenwich. Finally, at what point will the quality of life and property enjoyment of long-term tax paying residents of East Greenwich be given some consideration?

    Reply
    • Roseanna Diiuro

      Thank you Bill for your well thought out comments. I believe most elected officials in EG need to be voted out and replaced by ones who will advocate for EG taxpayers/homeowners If it were up to me, I would not accept any State money and, therefore, the state would have no control o over our town. As it is, when the state distribute tax dollars, EG gets peanuts.

      Reply
    • Educated

      The Town professionals and Planning Board are following RIGL 45-53: Low and Moderate Income Housing when it comes to Comprehensive Permits. If the Planning Board were to reject a comprehensive permit project, it only delays the inevitable and the state will reverse the decision through the SHAB with great expense in lawyer fees (note the 62 South Pierce Road project). It is state law and there is not much that can be done about it. You will find zero “qualified professionals” who will not follow state law. If you want to change things, contact State House Reps and Senators. They write the laws, not the Town.

      Reply
  3. Matt Renninger

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m curious as to what “qualified professionals” you suggest advise the planning board. Lawyers, perhaps? Individuals with considerable experience working with zoning bylaws and regulations in their professional careers? Individuals who work with traffic studies, landscape architects and engineers in the course of their own work? Housing policy aficionados? Because I assure you our Planning Board as currently constituted has all of those at their disposal. One can disapprove of the decisions, but those decisions are reached *because* the members are well versed and engaged with the subject matter.

    Reply
  4. Low

    To Educated – you say the town is following the RI GL blah blah “ LOW and moderate income !!! Show me a new low income condo or apartment complex being built ! I’m not talking “ affordable “

    The word affordable is just another word for back door deal letting all these developers built. It means nothing but the town keeps allowing it. There is not enough parking below the hill now just wait till all these condos are built !! Look what happened a month ago the fire trucks could not get to the Duke street fire due to all the cars parked all over Yet they are allowed to built like 20 more condos exactly across the street

    Reply
    • Educated

      To Low – OK… Brookside Terrace; recently approved and is being constructed at 1476 South County Trail. 96 rental apartments and 100% affordable low to moderate income. Cove Homes and Housing Authority project on Frenchtown Road, 63 units 100% affordable, also low income. Both of those projects are comprehensive permit projects.

      But you are correct; the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act certainly does heavily favor developers. It needs to be changed, but it is state LAW. Meaning if the town does not follow the LAW, the state will automatically approve the project without any input from the town or its residents. Again, if you want to change the state laws, contact the state legislatures.

      Reply
  5. Low

    At Brookside Terrace you have to meet the income guidelines which are not considered low income. I forgot what it was but oh well for the legit low income people they can’t move there !!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      Brookside Terrace accepts Section 8 vouchers.

      Reply
  6. Pam

    Are the ones on Frenchtown road for elderly? Maybe someone knows.

    Reply
    • Reasonable Rachel

      I know that it’s disappointing when the communities we grew up in change and grow themselves, but this is the nature of time and progress. Towns are developed, and time marches on. Being angry about it only hurts you.

      Reply
  7. DB- EG

    To Reasonable Rachel – We all understand communities we grew up in change and grow, but that is not the point I am reading from the remarks.

    If I am not mistaken, the citizens of our communities are frustrated by state and federal government mandates without local input. As“Educated” stated it is state law so we need to work on repealing it.

    Our government in our time have a lot of power using the town and state funding card. For example, review why we needed a special architect for the proposed school renovations.

    Reply

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