By DAVID PEPIN
Amendments to the town Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan to assist New England Institute of Technology received unanimous second reading approval from the Town Council Monday night after college representatives updated town officials on their plans for the growing campus on the former Rocky Hill Fairgrounds site.
The amendments are designed to replace the ordinance that governed the property when Brooks was developing its corporate offices on the site, before Rite Aid bought the company and sold the parcel to NEIT, said Town Planner Lisa Bourbonnais, adding that they also bring the current comprehensive plan in line with the new plan, expected to be finalized and approved by state and local officials this year.
“We didn’t want to have inconsistencies. Only four pages of the 100 in the ordinance are being amended,” she said.
The council is expected to grant third and final approval on May 9, with some minor modifications in language to be addressed by Town Solicitor Peter Clarkin.
Joseph DeAngelis, representing NEIT both as lawyer and a member of its board of trustees, said the college is planning to leave its two westernmost parcels alone for the foreseeable future: East Greenwich Golf Course and the Shackleton property, once the proposed site of a 400-unit affordable housing development.
He also wanted to kill speculation about potential dormitories on the Shackleton parcel, which have created concern for residents of the neighboring Taylor Pointe condominiums.
“There will be no dorms planned for the Shackleton property for at least 10 years,” said DeAngelis.
Clarkin said wetlands in the front of the parcels also limit development there.
DeAngelis, along with project engineer Dennis DiPrete, also offered an update on development of the campus and work going on around it.
The campus, which first opened in November to 200 nursing students, now houses 1,300 students, with allied health and information technology programs arriving in January. With the completion of work on the south wing of the 285,000-foot main building, 600 more students will arrive by fall.
The infrastructure, while a work in progress, is holding up well, DeAngelis said.
“I haven’t noticed any traffic issues related to those students,” he said.
Work on the extra right lane on Division Street, extending east from the corner of Route 2 to the Route 4 on-ramp, began in November and is about 75 percent, with the sticking point being National Grid’s relocation of underground utility lines, said DeAngelis.
On the other side of Route 2, the planned traffic roundabout at the campus entrance is closer to reality, he said, thanks to negotiations with Amtrol for a small strip of land on the north side of Division Road that will provide a right lane for those entering Amtrol.
“Hopefully, those agreements will be signed this week,” said DeAngelis, adding that the plan is awaiting approval from the state Department of Transportation.
He did not anticipate any problems resulting from Clarkin’s suggestions for changes in the wording.
“It’s a document we can certainly work with in the future,” DeAngelis said.