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Planning discusses affordable housing

September 9, 2012

Special to The Standard

NORTH KINGSTOWN – A public hearing was continued from July to Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting for the Master Plan of a proposed two-lot major subdivision for low and moderate income housing on Boston Neck Road and Elm Drive.
Commission members wanted the hearing continued because of various drainage concerns that both they and abutters of the property brought up. The town of North Kingstown and engineers working on behalf of the applicants met last week and both groups said they are satisfied with the changes after drainage became a main concern because of a wetland section on the site.
Once the project is complete, the developers, Caldwell & Johnson, intend to rent the property. Robert Craven, the attorney representing the abutters, urged Caldwell and Johnson to formulate a maintenance agreement so the property will be kept up.
“There needs to be enforcement and penalties if this drainage isn’t dealt with,” said Sharon Dobson, an abutter living on Edgar Nock Road, “The town is at its 10 percent affordable housing requirement. Why are we even doing this?”
North Kingstown Town Planner Jon Reiner corrected Dobson and said that NK is currently only at 8.08 percent affordable housing, and would only pass the minimum requirement with projects that are currently under review and/or construction.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way,” he said.
Dobson was also concerned with the time frame of the project and urged Caldwell & Johnson to complete the remaining projects in a “timely manner”. The property in question has been under construction for over two years, with many delays coming from the state and National Grid, which representatives from Caldwell & Johnson’s have said were out of the company’s hands.
“We’ve been acting in good faith during this process,” said David Caldwell, Jr., “We’re open to discussing the concerns of the abutters. I feel that what we’re doing is going to improve drainage all around the neighborhood, not just at this property.”
Caldwell feels the project is how affordable housing should look in town and said that, as landlords in town for over 45 years, he feels they have earned a good reputation.
The commission unanimously approved the master plan.
The commission also heard from Ed Tarbox of Tarbox Motors, 3671 Quaker Lane, North Kingstown who was seeking a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Review for an overlay zone for a dimensional variance to add a new wall-mounted sign on the building and for a new flagpole.
Earlier this year,
Tarbox opened his new location on Post Road and, since then, has wanted to see the traffic patterns flowing around his business. He said Tuesday that he noticed that motorists traveling Route 2 southbound wouldn’t have an idea of what his business was until they’ve already passed it.
“There’s no identifiable signage on the northern side of the building,” Tarbox said. “We never took into consideration the visibility of what motorists would see traveling south.”
Tarbox further explained to the commission that people in town know where his new location is. It’s the business from northern Rhode Island that he’s aiming to attract and their route to the property would be Exit 6 off Route 4.
The commission voted 5-1 to send a positive recommendation to the Zoning Board.

Lindsay Olivier is a veteran reporter with years of experience covering North Kingstown. She is an independent contractor for SRI Newspapers.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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