Vote on Division Road Project Likely by August

by | Jun 27, 2023

Above: The Division Road Neighborhood is outlined in red. 

Experts say area can handle more traffic; residents still disagree

The public hearing before the Planning Board over the 410-unit Division Road Neighborhood proposal continued for a fourth session Wednesday, June 21, with a more explicit argument over traffic and who gets to decide how much traffic is too much. The lawyer for the developer also expressed a desire to get the project to a vote.

The board is considering whether or not to grant master plan approval – the first of three approvals needed before any construction could begin – to developer Ned Capozzi’s project. The project – with its village-like layout including single family houses, duplexes, and small and larger apartment buildings – represents the largest single housing development the Town of East Greenwich has ever considered. 

The project gets a density bonus (i.e. the developer is able to build more units than would normally be allowed) because 25 percent of the units would be “deed-restricted affordable.” (According to R.I. Housing, an affordable residence does not cost a family more than 30 percent of their income, including insurance and condo fees, if applicable.)

Nearby residents are opposed to the project as is but say they are not opposed to new housing or affordable housing. but they are frustrated that the developer has chosen this particular area, where most houses are on two acres. The proposed development sits on 80 acres so with 410 units that comes out to about 5 units per acre. 

“We’re living in a rural area because we want to live in a rural area,” said Denise Shapiro, who lives in the Westwood Farms development directly across the street from the proposed development. 

Shapiro and others Wednesday night said it was already difficult to turn left (west) out of Westwood Drive. 

Division Road is two lanes with no shoulders, but it is considered a state highway and traffic experts for both the developer and the town have said the road can accommodate more traffic than it currently has. 

Planning Board Chair Ben Lupowitz said he understood the residents’ complaints and said he hoped there would be some “give and take.”

“I personally have sat at the traffic light at that intersection [Rt. 2 and Division] heading toward downtown East Greenwich. I have to wait two red lights now at that intersection … how much worse is it going to get? It’s a problem now. It will absolutely get worse. I think right now, we’re talking about the eyeball test.”

Planning board member Matt Yoder said he was more inclined to go with what the experts have said.

“We have numerous [traffic] studies and the hangups that [residents have] seem to run counter to what the traffic studies indicate,” he said. “It’s going to be really hard for me to not go by what the science shows. They are living on a state highway and with that come some ramifications.”

Town Councilor Caryn Corenthal, who lives in Westwood Farms, said she thought now was the time for a new, larger, traffic study – one that would take the Route 2-Division Road intersection into account.

(The last major traffic study of that intersection was in 2006, but several of the projects then on the table never materialized or were changed substantially.) 

Bill Landry, lawyer for the developer, pushed back against the idea of doing more studies now, saying Capozzi had already done far more than was technically required for master plan approval. Master plan is more conceptual – the hard engineering is done at the preliminary plan approval, which would come next.

“There’s plenty of time to get this right. It doesn’t all get done in the master plan stage,” Landry said. “At the next stage, the preliminary plan stage, you spend the money for the testing…. We’re not saying we won’t do it. We [didn’t] have to have a traffic study [at the master plan stage] – we agreed to do that. We [didn’t] have to have an archeological study – we agreed to do that….  You’re not dealing with a developer who’s doing the bare minimum to get by.”

But when Town Solicitor Andy Teitz suggested extending the application deadline to later in August, Landry said no. 

As of now, the Planning Board has to vote on the plan by Aug. 16 or the plan is approved as submitted. Under state law, a municipality has 90 days to vote on a comprehensive permit application. Because of a variety of factors, the developer has approved extensions since the “clock” started ticking in March 2022. 

In an interview Thursday, Town Manager Andy Nota said the Planning Board would probably get overruled at the state level (by the State Housing Appeal Board) if it does not approve the master plan. That’s because East Greenwich has not yet reached the state-mandated 10 percent affordable housing threshold (East Greenwich is currently at 5.67 percent). 

“I’m not seeing, based on the technical requirements of the laws now, and the future laws to come in January, that there’s a significant amount to derail this project as it stands today,” Nota said. “I think it’s the opportune time right now to think creatively about how to mitigate some of these impacts.”

One such “mitigation,” he said, could be to make a part of the development age-restricted. The “village” example Landry has presented as comparable to this proposal is a development in Warwick, New York, that is a 55-and-older community. 

That way the developer could keep the number of units but the number of people living in those units would probably decrease and the traffic patterns would be different (i.e. fewer families, fewer people leaving for work). 

That idea did not come up at the meeting Wednesday but Landry did seem to suggest there was some openness to a different idea in response to a question from Planning Board member Tara Wood, who asked him if the developer would consider fewer units.

He said the developer might be willing to lower the number of units if the affordable units did not have to be integrated into the entire development. Right now, there are affordable units planned for every type of housing in the development. Affordable housing advocates prefer total integration of affordable units, to avoid clustering the affordable units and creating a “less-than” part of a development.  

Nota also said the state Dept. of Transportation may have to look at improving some aspects of Division Road, including a persistent drainage issue in that area and improving site lines for people pulling out onto the road. 

“Those are the sort of things that are not necessarily going to come before this project’s approved but they may be prompted afterwards,” said Nota.

The Planning Board will take up the project again at its July 19 meeting. Town Solicitor Andy Teitz said the next meeting would be to discuss new issues, including the archeological and wildlife reports (which were not ready in time to be presented at the June 21 meeting). 



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  1. Lisa

    In other words, this project will be approved whether we like it or not regardless of the impact it will have on the community.

  2. Jackie

    So local control is being taken away and no one is Upset about that?! Our representatives need to take a stand!

  3. bruce

    Traffic is already a problem on Division St,; Rte. 2, Middle, Main ,First Avenue and the waterfront. You will rue the day you put this in and be complaining how the quality of life you sought in EG is no more.
    Don’t forget there is another project planned up there for 400 or so units. Also did anyone ask how Brookwood Terrace is working out ?

    • Michael

      Where is the other 400 unit development proposed?

      • Elizabeth McNamara

        There isn’t any other 400-unit development proposed.


      It’s called the Golden Rule.
      Those with the Gold make the Rules.

      • Paula Sotnik-Weiss

        Trying to enter Division fr Westfield Dr is already very dangerous! Cars come flying down Division, I have not observed any traffic controls.

  4. Renu Englehart

    The last traffic study was conducted in 2006. Only a couple of the projects in it did not materialize. The rest did or were expanded. For instance Mr Landry himself represented the developer of the Brookside Terrace project of 100 affordable units, which was not envisioned in the ’06 study. Further because of their status as state roads, Division and Rt 2 (as well as Rts 94, 4, and Rt 1) carry significant traffic from other towns as well. I do not believe that experts (paid for by the developer) should be the only criteria for passing this project. If the project were reduced, the affordable units increased and the lot kept a significant amount of the original tree cover, it would be much more in keeping with the area.

    • Barbara LaPlume

      I agree. The rural nature of our town is being challenged. The habitat of wild life is threatened. The 2acre rule when My home was built is no longer honored to keep the rural feel of the community intact. All these so called tracts look a like homes are not in keeping what East Greenwich is about.Traffic, water and sewerage will be another problem. Is this what East Greenwich wants?

      • Joe

        Don’t forget about the schools!

        Imagine when the school committee comes calling for $150million to renovate what already exists …. And then has to take on as many as 400 new families as well. $$$$$$$$

        East Greenwich isn’t Warwick, Coventry, or East Providence for a reason.

        VOTE NO!!

    • Lisa

      It sounds to me like this project will move forward whether we want it to or not. I thought our representatives had pledges to fight the legislation allowing the state to overrule the local government.

      • Catherine Rodgers

        That’s correct. At the candidate forum last fall, EG Representative Justine Caldwell promised to “go up to the Statehouse in January… and say this actually isn’t working for East Greenwich. It’s probably not working for a lot of cities and towns. I speak to people at their doors, I talk to people on the phone about some ideas that we could do to have more local control, and I work very closely with our town council. The idea that we have wrested away local control from East Greenwich is simply untrue.” (on forum video at minute 29:50).

  5. Sandra

    I have mentioned it before I now live in a LARGE housing development. It takes 15 minutes (if you time it right) to get out of the development, the town is 15 minutes away ! Everyone has at least 2 cars with teenagers driving changes to 4! There is going to be 800 homes in the development right believe me you are going to have a LOT of extra traffic! Don’t forget the school bus ,garage trucks and delivery trucks! How many roads are there to get out? Remember the people who plan these developments aren’t going to live there! Think about it!

  6. Jeffrey Goldwasser

    Why is East Greenwich out of compliance with the state mandate for 10% affordable housing? Rhode Island is in the midst of a housing crisis and every town needs to make sure that it is doing its share to keep Rhode Island a place where people can afford a home. If we had designated a more suitable site for affordable housing, the state would not force this project on us. Repealing the affordable housing mandate is a TERRIBLE idea. A person making the state average income cannot afford the state average two-bedroom apartment.

    • Denise Lopez

      Jeff, in this case affordable is considered $400k which is not going to solve anything. More people need to raise their concerns to our reps. We’re chasing a percentage we will never achieve and no one wants to admit at state level. Pause and plan is what we should be allowing the town to do especially with a new comprehensive plan coming up.

      • Lisa


    • Renu Englehart

      Hi Rabbi Goldwasser; The state law has been in place since 1991 and this is a private developer who is using the mandate to get what he wants. Further EG, like many towns did not have much building at all after the 2008 economic downfall. The pace of building did not really pick up until 2018 and took off during COVID. The comp permit plan has been extensively used in EG to build condos recently. The issue is 75% market rate units which are greater in this case than the 25% affordable units, so the target is always moving. Unfortunately a lot of the comments here do not recognize that the majority of all development in this town is private developers and private developments. The town cannot compel developers to build more affordable housing and economics has played a big part in the development of this town.

  7. Heather

    Things to think about when you vote. Not just at the local level but at the state level. The people that are going to allow this project to go through is who was voted in during elections by us all. Until we hit that 10% affordable housing, not much can be stopped. I hope we can change that in the future to preserve what we love in our town.

  8. Tom

    Another traffic study should be done to include Crompton Rd Shippeetown Rd and also include the intersection of Route 2. I lived in the area over 40 years never seen traffic as bad as it is now. It is unbelievable how the residents have no voice on this project. Like the above gentleman said those with the gold make the rules.


    “The state law has been in place since 1991 and this is a private developer who is using the mandate to get what he wants.”

    Would you please post the state law as promulgated in 1991 or its citation?
    Thank you

  10. Greg

    Please voice your concerns at the next hearing on 7/19 in person or via zoom.

  11. Kristen

    When and how did that land get “converted” from rural to non-rural development – meaning that acreage per lot get reduced? Does the current law about affordable housing units override that designation? Looking for some historical information.


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