EAST GREENWICH–Residents of Franklin Road, and of nearby neighborhoods want the planning board to pump the breaks on a 12-condo unit development proposed for 25 Franklin Road saying it could negatively affect their drinking water as well as that of North Kingstown, West Warwick, and Warwick.
Owner of the property, John Holmander of Pilot Properties LLC speaking at the board’s May 5 meeting said he is seeking approval through its Comprehensive Plan Review process to build the 12 attached units in the town’s Highway Commercial Zone on slightly less than two acres.
Under provisions of the Comprehensive Plan, the board has the jurisdiction to hear all aspects of the plan and to either approve or deny it.
“It’s a one-stop shopping process,” said board chair Nate Ginsburg.
The comprehensive plan, a part of the town’s master plan allows for the board to grant any zone change, or variance.
Each of the units would be 1,386 square feet, with two bedrooms and an attached garage.
Under provisions of the master plan, the site has been identified as suitable for low-income housing, and Holmander said three of the units would be so designated.
“The project would target snow birds, and young professionals,” Holmander added.
Zoning law requires 1.5 parking spots per unit, but the developer said the garages would be for two cars, with additional space in their driveways. He is also proposing to add an additional six parking spaces for overflow on the property, so visiting guests would not park on Franklin Road.
An existing 30-foot drainage swale that abuts the western side of the property would not be used for storm water run-off, but it’s that drainage system that has neighbors worried about the impact of the development on local potable water.
“That system has a tendency to flood,” said board member Matt Yonder.
Neighbors of the drainage system, which is owned by the town said it gets filled up several times a year by neighbors filling it with fallen leaves, and the town Department of Public Works doesn’t always clean it out in a timely manner causing flooding in the area after a heavy rain.
Speaking for the developer, engineer Michael McCormick said the property is not in a flood zone, and since no site water would be directed to the system there should be no problem.
“This lot is dry,” Holmander said.
Ritesh Rathore, a neighboring property owner took issue with McCormick and Holmander’s characterization of the property as being “dry,” saying, “flooding concerns are very real.”
He added that flooding might very well affect three nearby well heads that pump potable water to East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick, and North Kingston.
Because of this possibility, Holmander’s plans will be sent to those three towns for their review and any comments they might have, said Lisa Bourbonnais, town planner.
“The well heads are in a sensitive area,” Bourbonnais said. “We will need to give the neighbor towns a chance to have input on this.”
She added the DPW would be asked to review the plans, especially in light of the neighboring wellheads and report back before the next meeting on the project.
Rathore also added that no matter how many extra parking spaces the developer adds, “People would be parking on Franklin Road.
He suggested that rather than having access to the development off Franklin Road, the developer should make the entrance and exit road off nearby Post Road, thereby keeping traffic off Franklin and away from a small playground at the intersection of Franklin and the proposed access road.
Board members added that Franklin is also the route school buses use to get to the high school, some suggesting that Post Road be considered.
Before the next meeting on the project, which has yet to be scheduled, Holmander and his team of professionals will prepare answers to the board’s questions, and concerns.