By LINDSAY OLIVIER
NORTH KINGSTOWN – The second phase in the Identification of Village Centers project is complete and was presented to the town council at Monday’s meeting.
The town hired The Horsley Witten Group, Inc. to develop a study that assesses selected areas in North Kingstown that could participate in the Transfer of Development Right (TDR) Program as receiving areas. The findings from the first phase were presented to the council in November.
During the first phase, eight potential village sites were identified and looked at for growth potential and applicability of TDR.
From those, four showed enough potential to warrant further assessments: Allenton, Hamilton, Lafayette and Wickford Junction. The areas that didn’t make the cut were Saunderstown, Davisville, Wickford Village and the intersection of Routes 102 and 2.
“When thinking of the various vibrant, walkable villages already in existence in Rhode Island today, Wickford Village being a prime example, a critical element to the success of these villages is the streetscape,” said Nate Kelly of Horsley Witten. “In the best cases, the existence of wide sidewalks that contain pedestrian and bicycle amenities like benches, planters, period lighting, street trees and bike racks creates a public realm that connects the different buildings and open spaces into a unified neighborhood experience.”
Kelly explained that the four areas still under consideration have poor streetscapes, in that sidewalks are generally absent in Allenton, Hamilton and Lafayette, meaning improvements would be necessary. A sidewalk area does exist at Wickford Junction, which houses Wal-Mart and the soon-to-be opening train station.
The town currently has a The Compact Village Development (CVD) Ordinance which exists within the Zoning Ordinance, but has yet to be used. The purpose of this ordinance is to encourage village-style developments that are “intergral” to the goals of the Horsley Witten study.
The planning commission along with Horsley Witten has developed a new ordinance to replace the existing one. Kelly explained that within the new ordinance, a property owner “could petition to have an area re-zoned to CVD, but would only gain approval based on a series of eligibility criteria and the approval of a development concept.” This ordinance was presented before the town council at the Nov. 7 meeting but it chose to postpone a vote until this report is complete.
“It was just within the last week that we identified areas of this ordinance that need to be revised,” Kelly added.
Those changes include adding a specific statement regarding the density requirement of one unit per two acres in groundwater overlay zones not being applicable under the CVD and the nitrogen loading offset that can be used in the groundwater overlay zone can only be used in a GW2 area.
North Kingstown uses nitrogen loading calculations as an indicator of future impacts to the quality of groundwater supplies.