SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Several residents of the Biscuit City Road neighborhood attended Tuesday’s South Kingstown Town Council meeting to seek the council’s assistance on issues including roosters, traffic and the long-debated emergency access road.
First, the council addressed a communication from Jon and Gerralyn Perry, who have been before the council several times in recent months complaining about a neighbor who houses several crowing roosters and seeking a resolution in the form of a change to the town’s noise ordinance as it pertains to domestic animals.
“Approximately 30 other cites and towns have language in their noise ordinances that specifies other animals besides dogs, unlike South Kingstown,” Jon Perry said.
Perry brought up the potential public hearing regarding the ordinance that was discussed at the last council meeting the Perrys attended.
“Now there are three roosters,” he said. “The situation is not going away, it’s getting worse.”
Council Vice President Carol Hagan McEntee inquired as to whether the Perrys have consulted a private attorney to bring a private nuisance lawsuit against their neighbor.
Jon Perry said he would like to see if an amendment to the town’s ordinance “pans out.”
“I don’t want to penalize anyone, we just want some peace and quiet,” he said.
McEntee replied, “Changing the ordinance is going to result in penalties.”
Council President Ella Whaley said she was in favor of holding a public hearing and inviting local farmers to explore potential solutions to the problem.
“I’m hoping together maybe there is a resolution before it gets to the ordinance,” Whaley said.
The council voted to schedule a public informational hearing for the second council meeting in September, Sept. 23.
Town Manager Stephen A. Alfred clarified that the published notice would advertise for a hearing to deal with “noise disturbances in the community” rather than specific scenarios.
Alfred said the town would be open to suggestions for solutions from those who attend the hearing.
Shortly after, during the time for public comment, Dorald Beasley, a resident of Biscuit City Road, came to the podium to inquire about the status of the long-discussed emergency access road for the Biscuit City Neighborhood. Beasley said a couple weeks ago, a tree branch fell on several power lines causing them to fall into the road. Beasley said firefighters from the Kingston Fire District responded but were only able to block off the road, as is their standard operating procedure with potentially live power lines.
“It took two hours for National Grid to come back and fix the lines,” Beasley said. “The issue is this, for two hours our road was closed and there was no access for emergency vehicles to our neighborhood.”
In the event of an emergency, the fire truck blocking the road and downed power lines would have prevented access for emergency responders to residences beyond the roadblock.
“I can’t understand why it takes 12 years to get something done,” he said.
Alfred said the proposed emergency access was last before the town council in June 2012.
“At that point, staff recommendation to council provided authorization of emergency access from White Horn Drive to High Meadow Lane,” Alfred said. “But there were objections at that meeting from some residents of the Tefft Hill area that that may not be the most viable way of going.”
The residents suggested connecting White Horn Drive to Enterprise Terrace would be a preferred, and they claim shorter, connection. Alfred said both Enterprise Terrace and High Meadow Lane are approximately the same distance from the end of White Horn Drive.
However, connecting Enterprise Terrace to White Horn Drive required the town council to purchase property owned by the Tefft Hill Homeowners Association.
Alfred said Town Solicitor Michael Ursillo and Attorney Donald Packer, who represents the homeowners association, have been negotiating the purchase of the necessary property.
“Once it is signed by the association and the town council gives authorization, the council has to decide whether it wants to direct staff to do the interconnect through High Meadow, Enterprise Terrace or both,” Alfred said. “The first step is to be able to get the easement signed and approved by council.”
Alfred indicated that the easement would be signed within the next few weeks. He said the land would cost approximately $75,000 to $85,000 and would be paid for with funds from the town’s transportation improvement program.
It is expected that when the issue comes before the council again, there will again not be a consensus between the Biscuit City and Tefft Hill residents.
“Having dealt with this issue for many years, there will not be a consensus of different groups as how to best handle the situation,” Alfred said. “My personal feeling is that there is a need for it and council will be in a position to make a decision on that in the month of October.”
If the easement is then approved, the town will have to draft and submit a design plan to National Grid, which has power lines running through the area.
Biscuit City residents rallied at Tuesday’s meeting, and many came forward expressing their opinions on the easement and other issues.
Lorraine Horton, a resident of Stonehenge Road, said she wanted to make sure the emergency access road wouldn’t become an actual road.
“If there is a road from White Horn to anywhere it would be a problem,” she said. “It would be a cut through like Little Rest is. I don’t want someone to think we’re looking at a road, we’re only looking at emergency access.”
Alfred assured her that the easement would be barricaded with bollards or other means so through traffic wouldn’t be allowed, though pedestrians could still pass through.
“I don’t want a road going anywhere,” Horton said. “But we need another way into the back of Biscuit City. There are 225 homes back there and spending three hours knowing the road is blocked and knowing there’s no way any emergency vehicle can get in is pretty scary.”
Donald Cobb, another resident of Stonehenge Road, urged the council not to let the issue “die” and “keep momentum going.”
Laureen Koch, a resident of White Horn Drive, also expressed the need for the easement.
“To have those many [sic] people trapped and not be able to have emergency access … I think that really is a huge safety issue and something that needs to be handled,” she said.
Nina Gardner, a 16-year-old Stonehenge Road resident agreed there is a need for the easement but also told the council that she has concerns about the speed of vehicles traveling on Biscuit City Road and throughout the neighborhood.
“It’s 25 miles per hour and most people tend to go 40 or 50,” she said. Gardner called for stop signs or speed bumps to be installed to mitigate speeding, saying that the speeding cars pose a hazard to her and other pedestrians.
Her father, Ross Gardner, agreed.
“I have stalked people and warned them that they can’t go 40 or 50 miles per hour,” he said. “We have no stop signs and that’s not going to help the traffic situation or the speed. Eventually, someone who walks on that road is going to get hit.”