Preserve Our Past ...

Protect Our Future

The Beaver River Valley Community Association was founded in 2018 by concerned property owners and residents for the purpose of protecting the rural character and historic and natural resources that define our community.  Read more...

Our beautiful town is being threatened by the encroachment of industrial-scale, commercial solar installations by developers.   We must work together to protect our scenic vistas, open fields, farmlands and cultural landscapes.  Read more...

IMPORTANT UPDATE!

210319 image for upload.jpg

Richmond Planning Board Meeting June 8, 2021

 

Board Approves Eight-Unit Subdivision

 

By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA

 

An application for the eight-unit Highlander Estates subdivision at 3 Carolina Nooseneck Road cleared a major hurdle Tuesday with the Planning Board’s approval of the master plan. The remote hearing was a continuation of a public hearing that began on May 25.

 

Submitted by developer William McIntosh IV, the proposal calls for six market-priced and two affordable housing units on a 4.5-acre parcel. The board denied the application in April 2020, citing its incompatibility with the town’s comprehensive plan. McIntosh appealed the decision to the State Housing Appeals Board, which remanded the application to the Planning Board.

Board members had already reviewed the draft decision to approve the application, with several conditions, written by Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth and Town Planner, Sean Lacey.

A persistent concern is the drinking water supply and the impact that new wells for the densely-built subdivision might have on neighboring properties. Ellsworth addressed those concerns by including an amendment to the conditions for approval.

“A hydrogeological analysis must demonstrate that installation and operation of four wells on the site will have no negative impact on surrounding properties, including, but not limited to, lowering of groundwater elevation or loss of well yield during the seasonal low groundwater period, and that sufficient water will be available for all eight dwelling units,” she stated.

Michael Resnick, the attorney representing the developer, proposed changing Ellsworth’s amendment to allow greater flexibility regarding the number of wells in the subdivision, which might be fewer than the four in the plan.

“I think it does the same thing, but it doesn’t particularly tether the applicant to four wells, and if there’s a way to accomplish the same flow and service with less than four, in my personal opinion, I think that would be better language,” he said.

Resnick also requested that the draft be amended to ensure that his client would not be responsible for the conditions of existing wells on nearby properties.

“… while this [hydrogeological] study is meant to determine that us drilling wells, us serving those eight units will have no impact on the surrounding property and the residential property, I don’t think that it’s fair or appropriate for this condition to say that sufficient water will be available for all eight dwelling units and the abutting residential property, because my client’s not going to guarantee that the neighbor’s well works forever if there’s a condition or issue that’s outside of our control that has nothing to do with we have done on site or the draw that we’ve made from the water source,” he said.

Board member Nancy Hess said her priority was ensuring that there would be enough water for the new units and neighboring homes.

“We’re increasing the density over the R-3 zoning district ,which is based upon one house for every three acres, and that R-3 zoning was developed a long time ago to assure that there will be adequate water quantity and quality in people’s houses as the town develops,” she said.

During the public comment period, abutter Lisa Tefft said she worried that the subdivision would impair her water supply.

“I do feel that there’s going to be problems with the water, regardless…if this does continue on and if there’s eight units on this hill,” she said. “Rich [another neighbor] and I have both learned how to control our water usage. I mean, I sometimes take showers at one o’clock in the morning, so it’s all a matter of supply and demand and trying to control it, and if there’s eight more units, potentially 16, 18, 20 people up on the hill, all trying to get ready for work and school in the morning, everybody’s going to be using the water at the same time.”

“We share your concerns over the well issue,” board Chairman Philip Damicis said. “That’s the reason we’re doing the hydrogeological study, and we’ll see what the results are. It’ll undergo a peer review by the town’s engineers and we’ll address it when we get the results.”

Board members voted unanimously to approve the master plan. The developer will now seek preliminary approval for the project.

 

Cynthia Drummond cynthiadrummond20@gmail.com

 

Please contact the Beaver River Valley Community Association

at beaverrivervalley@gmail.com

or go to www.brvca.com

if you would like to receive newsletters and updates

Update: Richmond Planning Board Meeting 5/25

McIntosh Appeal Remanded to Planning Board for Hearing; Conditional Approval Granted.

 

By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA

 

RICHMOND — Members of the Planning Board agreed Tuesday at a remote public hearing to grant conditional approval the master plan for a housing development at 3 Carolina Nooseneck Road. (The master plan is the first stage of the approval process.)  Submitted by William McIntosh IV, the proposal consists of six market-priced and two affordable housing units. The board denied the application in April 2020, citing its incompatibility with the town’s comprehensive plan. McIntosh appealed the decision to the State Housing Appeals Board, or SHAB, which remanded the application to the Planning Board.

Town Planner Shaun Lacey explained the configuration of the buildings on the lot, which also fronts Route 138. “The eight dwelling units are broken down into two, single family residential structures along with two triplex structures that will be sold as condominiums,” he said. “The project also subdivides the existing four and a half - acre parcel into three different lots.”

A log cabin which is already on the property will serve as one of the two affordable units, with the second unit in one of the triplexes.  Project engineer Pat Walker shared a plan of the project, and landscape architect Mark Butler described the plants that would be added to replace those lost during construction and provide screening at the busy intersection, for both residents and passing motorists.  “We feel that we’ve done a great job at providing supplemental plantings for the benefit of the development, the developer, the town, and anyone traveling up and down 138, and preserving the native forest that currently exists on the site,” he said.

The attorney representing the developer said that after reading Lacey’s report, he felt he needed to remind the board that while the town’s updated comprehensive plan has been submitted to the state for approval, until it is approved, the old, or current plan was still in effect.  “It’s important that the board members understand that presently, until it’s approved by the state, there is no new comprehensive plan,” Michael Resnick said. “Moreover, it is the comprehensive plan that was in place at the time of the application.”

Resnick noted that because the application was remanded to the board, it was “inappropriate” to cite the new comprehensive plan, which has not yet been approved.  “There is nothing to suggest that this project is not in conformance with that comprehensive plan or is otherwise not in conformance with local regulations,” he said.

Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth agreed with Resnick that the old comprehensive plan would apply to this project.  “The old comp plan applies to the application, because it was filed under the old comp plan,” she said.

Some board members expressed concerns about whether there was sufficient water at the site to supply eight dwellings without impacting neighbors’ wells.  “We’re talking the hydrogeological study, and then whether or not there’s going to be proper, sufficient water sources for this property and existing, current landowners,” Daniel Madnick said. “So I for one look forward to reviewing that documentation when we get it at prelim [preliminary] plan. ”Board member Nancy Hess said she wanted to see the results of a test to determine how much water was available on the site.

 

“Based on the fact that previous information submitted was generic and inconclusive to establish a yield for wells for the project and whether or not there would be negative or no impact on neighbors, I suggest a revised hydrogeolic analysis be done that includes a 24-hour pump yield test, conducted during seasonal ground water lows and translating the results into projected gallons per minute for each well on the existing site,” she said.

 

During the public comment period, two neighboring property owners said they worried about the water supply, with one homeowner describing his water pressure as already low.  Board chair Philip Damicis said he wanted more detailed information about the landscape plan, and asked Butler to prepare a drawing of what it would look like.  “If you put together a rendering that takes away all of the foliage, the landscaping that’s in the right of way, get rid of that, and show us what will be remaining and what will be there with your new landscaping,” he said.  Damicis also wanted to know whether the buildings could be shifted further to the West so the units would have larger back yards, but Walker said moving the buildings would impact other components of the development, such as driveways and septic systems.  “I still think you could have had a much better design and you could have minimized the impact on the surrounding land uses and not only that, you would have had a more attractive housing development,” Damicis said. “I think it’s a poor design, quite honestly.”

The board asked Lacey to draft a final report which members would consider when the hearing continues on June 8, however, Resnick requested an immediate initial approval of the master plan.

“I would request a vote this evening,” he said. “Again, SHAB has retained jurisdiction of this and I would request that there be a vote taken.”  Ellsworth explained,  “You would be voting on a motion to approve, subject to approval of the written decision on June 8,” she said. “There’s a motion pending before SHAB and they want an answer by, I think, the end of this week, on whether it’s going to be withdrawn.”  Several board members said they were confused by the request and asked Resnick to explain why an immediate vote was necessary.   “It’s just a procedural mechanism where I needed to preserve the opportunity that these issues could be resolved by the state board as opposed to this local board, and during the process, Karen [Ellsworth] and I discussed that because of the way things were going and because of the way our future before this board with respect to preliminary and final approval and potentially other projects that we would hold it in abeyance and withdraw it when appropriate,” he said.  That withdrawal, Resnick added, had to be submitted this week.

The board voted unanimously to grant conditional approval to the master plan, subject to the approval on June 8 of a full, written decision.

 

Cynthia Drummond cynthiadrummond20@gmail.com

 

Please contact the Beaver River Valley Community Association

at beaverrivervalley@gmail.com

or go to www.brvca.com

if you would like to receive newsletters and updates

Town Council Meeting May 18th Update: Council denies permit for holiday light show

 

By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA

 

RICHMOND — There will not be a holiday light show at the Wawaloam campground this year. Members of the Town Council voted unanimously at the May 18 meeting to deny a permit for the event because the owner of the campground property does not want to host it.

Appearing on behalf of the show’s producer, BOLD Media of Holtsville, N.Y., Daniel Dwyer said his company proposed to stage a drive-through holiday light display at the campground, as it did in 2020.

However, the owner of the campground at 510 Gardiner Road has said that because of traffic problems and safety concerns last year, Wawaloam would not be willing to host the show for a second year.

Nicole Smith, general manager of the campground, said the property owners had attempted to rectify the traffic and safety concerns, without success.

“We knew that there was a problem, so much so that we ourselves got out and actually helped out,” she said. “Many times, I said ‘you need to come. We need more help. We need more help.’ And I was always left with a little bit of resistance there, saying ‘you should be able to run this with two people.’…I just want the community to know that we did our best. There was nothing we could do, basically, with our hands tied.”

Council President Nell Carpenter said the property owner’s refusal to host the event was the principal factor in denying the permit.

“We have documentation from a representative of the property owner stating that they are not giving permission for this event, and we have to respect that,” she said.

 

Council approves budget

 

The council voted in a public hearing to approve the proposed 2021-22 budget.

Finance Director Laura Kenyon presented highlights of the spending plan, which will include a property tax increase of 1.2%, or $20.62 per $1,000 valuation.

“If a $300,000 home had a tax this year of $6,114, next year, it will be $6,186, which is $72 for the year,” she said.

Residents, none of whom commented at the hearing, will be asked to approve the budget at the Financial Town Meeting, which will be conducted on the Zoom remote platform on June 9 at 7 p.m.

 

Staff hiring

 

The council agreed to hire Morgan Cusumano, a longtime summer camp employee, as acting Recreation Director, replacing Sally Lambert, who has resigned.

Councilors engaged in a protracted discussion at the May 4 meeting regarding the need for hiring transparency, with several members suggesting that in the interest of fairness, the town should advertise for open positions.

 

Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth told the council that she had researched hiring practices in other cities and towns, and none had a requirement that open positions be advertised.

“Most cities and large towns do not have any provision in their code of ordinances at all for the method by which employees are solicited,” she said. “In fact, most of them seem to use a placement exam and interview procedure. They give examinations, they rank candidates, and they maintain a list of qualified individuals for different positions.”

Town Administrator Karen Pinch said she currently advertises open positions on the town’s website and Facebook page as well as the website of the Rhode Island League of Cities and towns.

Council members asked Ellsworth to research the matter further and revisit the issue at a future meeting.

 

Cynthia Drummond cynthiadrummond20@gmail.com

 

Please contact the Beaver River Valley Community Association

at beaverrivervalley@gmail.com

or go to www.brvca.com

if you would like to receive newsletters and updates

Council Meeting Update:  MAY 5th Town Council hears proposed budget, debates recreation hiring

 

By Cynthia Drummond for the Beaver River Valley Community Association

 

RICHMOND — Town Council members heard a report at the May 5th remote meeting on the town’s proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget. They also considered hiring protocols for the recreation program.

 

The budget

 

Finance Director Laura Kenyon presented an overview of the new $27.7 million budget, which contains a modest property tax increase, due primarily to an increase in the town’s share of the $21 million Chariho schools budget.

The spending plan is a 3.3%, or $900,000, increase over the current budget.

Estimated revenue from property, tangible and commercial taxes will increase 2.45%, from $20.38 per $1,000 valuation to $20.88, but Kenyon said the final property tax rate will not be known until evaluations and assessments have been calculated.

“There are still some exemptions that need to be evaluated,” she said, referring to the tax exemptions the town gives to older and disabled homeowners.

Personnel costs, the result of planned salary increases, will be going up in the new budget.

“There are no new positions,” Kenyon said. “There is a planned salary increase for most employees at 2% and the police are at 2.5% [increase] per their contract. The pension has been adjusted downward as the rates came down and that saved us about $8,000.”

Health insurance will see a minor increase, under 2%, and dental insurance will decrease by 3.5%.

The town will also save about $269,000 in debt service, because one of its bonds has been paid off.

Kenyon said an additional $10,000 will be allocated to the police budget for a crisis intervention specialist, whose salary will be shared by several southern Rhode Island towns.

“That’s in collaboration with the towns in Washington County and it’s a wonderful service that has been provided to our town,” she said.

The capital improvement budget will increase by $430,000, most of which, $300,000, will be used for road work.

Voters will be asked to approve borrowing $350,000 to chlorinate the town’s water. (Most residents are served by private wells and do not use town water.)

“If we go with the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, there will be a principal forgiveness of $100,000 on that,” Kenyon said. “The debt will actually only be charged to the people who are on the water system, not every taxpayer in the town.”

Residents will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed budget at the May 18 Town Council meeting.

 

 

Recreation Department Hiring Debated

 

As preparations ramp up for the town’s summer day camp, Recreation Director Sally Lambert requested that Morgan Cusumano, a longtime camp employee, be hired as Assistant Recreation Director. Lambert also asked the council to approve the hiring of four camp counselors.

In addition, council members learned that Lambert, who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, is leaving her position with the town.

Council member Richard Nassaney said that since Cusumano had been with the department for several years, the town should hire her as Recreation Director to replace Lambert.

Councilor Ronald Newman agreed with Nassaney, however other councilors said the position should be publicly advertised.

Lauren Cacciola said,

“I think for transparency reasons we need to open it up, knowing this new information, we need to put it up, … so I will not be for approving.”

Newman, who works for the Rhode Island Department of Agriculture, disagreed, pointing out that it was common practice to promote employees without publicly posting the positions.

“If you work at the state, if someone has someone that did a good job the previous year, and we know the job that they did, we would just continue on,” he said. “My vote won’t change because I’ve known that Morgan has done a great job. I’ve heard nothing but compliments about her, so I don’t see the advantage of not giving it, moving on and hiring an assistant director.”

Council President Nell Carpenter said she had concerns about promoting Cusumano to director, but Town Administrator Karen Pinch reminded the council that the item on the agenda referred only to hiring Cusumano as Assistant Director and therefore, the position of director could not be discussed.

Carpenter said she would have preferred to advertise both positions.

“It is imperative, optically, we advertise for paid positions as a municipality,” she said. “I requested this two years ago. So, I understand that we are in the lurch right now, I understand that, so I will go with the suggestion of the administrator at this time, but going forward, we cannot show favoritism for people who have participated in camp before. We must open this up for people to apply. We must.”

Asked whether the town was legally required to advertise the open positions, Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth said there was no ordinance requiring advertising, but that the existing ordinance could be amended to require it.

Nassaney said with the summer program ready to go, it would be important to have someone in place who was already familiar with the camp.

“You have people that are already cohesive and they work well together,” he said. “Why disrupt that? You want to do something, you want to change something, then you do it next season. This season’s already set. It’s ready to go.”

Council Vice President James Palmisciano agreed with the argument for continuity in the program, suggesting the town hire Cusumano for the Assistant Director position but he also urged Town Administrator Karen Pinch to try to interview her for the position.

“It satisfies both the business continuity and the transparency,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to approve hiring Cusumano as Assistant Director of the summer camp and to hire the four counselors.

 

Re-opening

 

In other business, Pinch said the Town Hall was expected to fully re-open on May 17. Public Works Director Scott Barber is completing the modifications necessary for safe, in-person transactions.

“I think everyone’s looking forward to not having to run back and forth to the window and just having some social interaction with the public as well, as I’m sure the public will be happy to be able to come in also,” she said.

 

 

Next Town Council Meeting will be Tuesday, May 18th 2021 at 6:00pm

 

To join by zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82802362423

 

 

Cynthia Drummond  cynthiadrummond20@gmail.com

 

Please contact the Beaver River Valley Community Association

at beaverrivervalley@gmail.com

or go to www.brvca.com

if you would like to receive newsletters and updates

DJI_0001.JPG

URI SOLAR SURVEY RESULTS

 

Survey: Rhode Islanders willing to pay to keep large solar arrays farther from their homes

 

By Cynthia Drummond for the BRVCA

 

KINGSTON — Rhode Islanders polled on their preferences for the siting of commercial solar arrays said they viewed forests and farms as the worst locations for commercial solar projects. Participants in the three-year study were also willing to pay more for electricity to ensure that large solar arrays are kept out of open spaces.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Rhode Island, the study is a collaborative project involving URI’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and the College of the Environment and Life Sciences.

Entitled “Here Comes the Sun: Incorporating Resident Preferences into Solar Siting Policy Recommendations for Rhode Island,” the project was funded by a $300,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Participants were chosen from a random sample pulled from the state’s voter registration records. Of the 3,000 people invited to participate, 510 responded online and 159 responded to the paper version.

Corey Lang, an associate professor in the Department of Natural and Resource Economics, presented the findings in an April 27 webinar co- hosted by Kate Venturini, program administrator at URI Cooperative Extension.

Rhode Island has ambitious renewable energy goals, Lang said, which in some cases, have encouraged what is known as solar sprawl.

“Starting about five-ish years ago, we started to see a real ramp-up in utility scale solar arrays being built, and it started small and then just really escalated,” he said. “A lot of arrays are being proposed, and a lot are being built and that is going to help us meet those ambitious targets, but people are not always happy with the siting of these.”

Lang described an issue familiar to residents of rural towns such as Richmond and Hopkinton: the clear-cutting of hundreds of acres of forest for solar energy projects.

“That strikes a lot of people as antithetical to environmental goals,” Lang said. “Sometimes, they’re sited on farmland and that can be beneficial to a farmer, but maybe it’s inconsistent with the type of landscapes that people want.”

Landfills and carports are also potential sites for solar panels, but those sites are more expensive to develop than forests and farmers’ fields. It is on those already built or environmentally-compromised sites, however, that survey participants said they preferred to see solar projects.

The goal of the survey, Lang explained, was not to advocate for or against solar energy projects but to measure people’s preferences for different aspects of commercial scale solar development and then incorporate those preferences in siting decisions.

“Ordinary residents are often excluded or they’re being minimized in a siting decision because they’re not a central part of the transaction,” he said. “The central actors in a transaction are the developer and the landowner and then there’s the state, which is pushing for the development; it’s setting incentives. So those are the parties that are involved, but there are a lot of parties who are outside of that transaction who are still affected by some of the solar developments.”

The study also determined the values of non-monetary qualities such as rural character. One way natural resource economists measure this is by finding out how much people are willing to pay for certain amenities.

“Things like your views as you drive by, or from your house. Your preferences for open space,” Lang said. “These are not things that are bought and sold, but people still care a lot about them, and so their innovative approach is to try and understand what those preferences are and put monetary values on them so that they can be brought in to the same playing fields as those other monetary benefits and costs that the developer and the landowner are talking about.”

Lang described a sample survey question in which the respondent’s monthly electric bill would be reduced by $10 and the commercial solar array would not be visible, but it would be built on farmland.

“By asking people to make these tradeoffs and having a lot of different people do them, then we can understand the preferences for each of these attributes,” he said.

Of all the renewable energy choices, 87% of survey respondents preferred solar, but siting was a major issue. Lang’s team set out to determine people’s willingness to pay higher electric bills to avoid certain siting scenarios.

 “There’s a pretty strong willingness to pay to avoid full visibility,” Lang said. “…the average household is wiling to pay $7.30 [more] per month to avoid a fully visible solar array.”

In addition to asking people to choose between different siting and project size options, the survey attempted to gauge respondents’ feelings regarding residential development on those sites.

“We’re making the choices difficult,” Lang said. “We’re forcing people to make tradeoffs between multiple things that they like or multiple things that they don’t like.”

Asked to rank their feelings about residential development instead of solar,

people were willing to pay more to reduce the chance of solar development, but they were more likely to prefer solar when residential development was a possibility.

Finally, survey participants were asked how much more they would be wiling to pay to prevent or encourage solar development on various sites.

Four types of land were considered: farmland, commercial land, forested land and brownfields.

“People are willing to pay to avoid solar development on farm and forest land - and a lot, particularly forest land.” Lang said. “… $40 per month people are willing to pay to avoid that development happening on forested land.”

Respondents were also willing to pay more to encourage the building of solar arrays on commercial land and contaminated sites.

Now that the study has documented Rhode Islanders’ preferences, Lang said he hoped a way would be found to include that information in Rhode Island’s energy policy.

“What we have is a set of incentives, per kilowatt hour, that are justified by people’s preferences, and so, as we think about how we incorporate people’s preferences, this is it,” Lang said. “This is offering incentives to the developers to move development from forest to commercial.”

Venturini said the survey results would be shared with state and municipal policy-makers.

“Get it into the hands of the people who are, bless them, tasked with making these decisions that have a 25 year or more impact on environmental function and land use and tax revenue,” she said.

 

cynthiadrummond20@gmail.com

 

 

Please contact the Beaver River Valley Community Association

at BeaverRiverValley@gmail.com

or go to www.brvca.com

if you would like to receive newsletters and updates.

Beaver River - Shannock Hill (4).JPG

Prior Updates

210319 image for upload.jpg

Dear Members and Friends of the Beaver River Valley Community Association,

 

Council Considers Return to In-person Meetings

RICHMOND — Members of the Town Council are considering allowing the resumption of in-person meetings in addition to the current web-based format, but have agreed to proceed with caution.


The topic was on Tuesday’s meeting agenda at the request of council President Nell Carpenter, who asked the council to consider protocols for re-opening the Town Hall, the senior center and Town Council meetings to the public.


“The reason I wanted to have this on the agenda for discussion was to be proactive, because we will, at some point, have direction from the governor’s office,” she said. “Obviously, our actions are contingent on the governor’s orders, but I would like to be able to hit the ground running in this community when that order comes down."


Carpenter noted that the Department of Public Works had been installing modifications in the council chambers to make public meetings safer.
“My understanding is that there is an anticipation of being ready to open the doors, so to speak, in May, mid-May, late May, I believe and with that, have resuming services in the various offices of Town Hall,” she said.


Members of the town’s senior center are eager to return to social activities, Carpenter added, and the town’s boards and committees are also discussing the resumption of in-person meetings.


Meetings at the Town Hall would require participants to register in advance, since the capacity of the council chambers, which is already NO more than 50 people, would be further reduced. People would still have the option of watching meetings online.


Councilor Ronald Newman had a list of questions about the re-opening.
“How can we ensure everyone is properly able to socially distance themselves in chambers? What sanitation disinfectants would be used? How can we ensure safety if there’s still not, you know, adequate immunization yet? The U.K. variant now is starting to come our way, and we’ve got to worry about that especially when we’ve got a gathering? How can we ensure Town Hall employees themselves will remain safe with people coming into council chambers and the Town Hall itself?…What is the sudden movement that we have to really meet in person? he said.


Newman said he was comfortable with online meetings and wondered whether re-opening in May might be too soon.


Carpenter said she was exploring re-opening strategies and intended to continue with web-based meetings.


“I share your concerns, Ron,” she said. “Please don’t think that I’m trying to start this before it’s safe.”


In other business, the council discussed a “notice of claim” filed by The Preserve LLC on Mar. 30 against the town by attorneys John Tarrantino and Nicole Benjamin. The claim seeks $100,000,000 for damages resulting from The Preserve’s treatment by town officials.


Owned by developer Paul Mihailides, 3,500-acre “Preserve Sporting Club and Residences” has been managed since Sept. 2020 by Ocean House Management LLC, which operates the Ocean House in Westerly.


The notice of claim, addressed to Richmond Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth and the Town Council, accuses the town of discriminatory treatment which resulted in the loss of an opportunity to build a hotel on the property.


Ellsworth said she had asked that the document be added to the council agenda so it would be public information.


“Under state law, someone who is going to sue a municipality for money damages has to file a notice of claim 45 days before the suit is filed,” she said. “We have not been sued and this does not necessarily mean that we are going to be sued. This is just a notice of claim and if you would like to discuss it, we have to do that in executive session.”


The council agreed with Ellsworth’s recommendation that the notice of claim be referred to the town’s insurance carrier.


The council also heard an update by Town Planner Shaun Lacey on flooding mitigation in the Valley Lodge Estates and KG Ranch Road neighborhoods.
The Southern Rhode Island Conservation District was awarded a flood resiliency grant from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and has targeted that area of Richmond for a mitigation project, the engineering of which would be undertaken at no cost to the town.


“We’re still waiting on the allocation of funds from the federal offices over at NRCS down to the state, and we’re probably looking at five to six weeks out from that funding being made available,” Lacey said. “So still in a little bit of a holding pattern but we’re actually reasonably confident that the planning budget is probably going to be increasing, so that’s pretty good news.”


Lacey said a full presentation on the mitigation project would be provided to the council once the state has authorized the conservation district to proceed.

Please email beaverrivervalley@gmail.com if you would like to receive Town Council, Planning Board, Zoning Board and other updates or visit our website at www.brvca.org

 

Thank you for your continued support. 

 

Sincerely,

Beaver River Valley Community Association

Dear Members and Friends of the Beaver River Valley Community Association,

We have a number of updates to share related to the Beaver River Valley and town business.

GD Beaver River Solar I LLC and property owner William Stamp Jr. are appealing the denial by the Richmond Zoning Board of an application for a special-use permit to build a commercial solar array in a residential zone at 172 Beaver River Road. The facility would be constructed on a 41-acre agricultural property owned by Stamp. Filed in Washington County Superior Court on March 10 by attorney John Mancini, the appeal names as defendants the Zoning Board, its five members and Richmond Finance Director Laura Kenyon.

Owned by Green Development of Cranston, GD Beaver River Solar applied to the town for a special-use permit in 2018 and in a unanimous decision on February 22 2021, the board denied the application. The appeal asks the court to reverse the board’s decision and award the developer attorney’s fees and costs.

“The Zoning Decision was without substantial justification and a clear abuse of discretion, warranting an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Law 42-92-3, otherwise known as ‘Equal Access to Justice for Small Businesses and Individuals’,” the appeal states.

Reasons for the Zoning Board’s denial included the project’s distance from the nearest electrical substation, which is father than two miles away as required by the town’s zoning ordinance, as well as its incompatibility with both the town’s comprehensive plan and the surrounding property. The parcel is bordered to the west by Beaver River Road and to the east by the Beaver River. The river is part of the Pawcatuck River watershed, which recently received a Wild and Scenic designation from the federal government. The Beaver River Valley Agricultural District is also currently under consideration for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

At the March 16 meeting of the Richmond Town Council, the Town Council approved a resolution supporting the nomination of the Beaver River Road Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places. The unanimous vote took place without discussion or debate.

The agricultural district has already received a formal determination of eligibility for inclusion in the register from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The nomination will be made to the Department of the Interior by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. Drafted by Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth, the resolution comes in advance of the April 5 meeting of the commission’s review board, which will consider the nomination.

The addition of the district to the National Register of Historic Places will not restrict the rights of property owners or impose additional guidelines for development review.  The Beaver River Valley Community Association, which contracted with the Rhode Island Public Archaeology Laboratory to create the nomination papers, is working to increase awareness of the historic and cultural significance of the district which, in turn, will support the preservation and protection of the area. The resolution reads:

WHEREAS, the Beaver River Road Historic District is a unique and valuable reminder of Richmond’s agrarian past; and

WHEREAS, the district, which extends almost two miles along Beaver River Road, parallel to the Beaver River, is a visually cohesive rural landscape of historic farmsteads, stone walls, and open, cultivated fields and pastures; and

WHEREAS, as a result of federal legislation enacted in 2019, the Beaver River, one of seven rivers that comprise the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed, is a nationally-recognized Wild and Scenic River; and

WHEREAS, Richmond’s 2021 Comprehensive Community Plan recognizes the Beaver River Road Historic District as a valuable natural, historical, and cultural resource; and

WHEREAS, on April 5, 2021, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission’s Review Board will consider the Beaver River Road Historic District for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places,

THEREFORE, the Richmond Town Council strongly supports inclusion of the Beaver River Road Historic District on the National Register and urges the Review Board to approve the nomination.

 

In other land-use related news, the Town Council adopted the latest update of the comprehensive community plan, with councilor Lauren Cacciola casting the only dissenting vote. During a public hearing on the plan, Town Planner Shaun Lacey provided an overview of the document, which is required by state law to be updated every 10 years and will guide all land use in the town. Lacey prefaced his presentation by explaining that there are a few minor changes still to be made to the document.

“I did just wanted to bring up one point that was brought to my attention,” he said. “I’m led to understand that the council may have some concerns rehearing the final draft tonight and specifically, why the comments from the Planning Board’s public hearing last month were not incorporated into this plan at tonight’s meeting. The reason for that is that the comments that we received from last month’s meeting with the Planning Board were generally thought to be grammatical and formatting-related, so my plan for tonight was to walk the council through those recommendations during my presentation to you tonight.”

Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth suggested the council first hear Lacey’s presentation and then make a decision regarding the adoption of the plan. “Why don’t you let Shaun put on the presentation that he planned to put on and then you can make a decision about whether you’d like to continue it, or vote on it tonight,” she said.

Cacciola said she had not had sufficient time to review the changes. “I do see some things that I would like to review a little bit more so I can get more information and that way, it can be completed,” she said. “If it’s not complete now, then what’s the difference of waiting, legally, I would say, because if something’s wrong and someone goes ahead and says ‘I’m just going by the comp plan’ and that’s not what you mean, then it’s not complete.”

Ellsworth responded that the plan, with or without the additional edits, was a legal document. “It’s legal either way,” she said. “What I suggested was, you listen to Shaun’s presentation and then if you’re still uncomfortable with enacting the whole thing tonight, you can continue it to another date and have him post the entire revised document on the website.”

The council opted to hear the presentation, which concluded with Lacey telling the council that the next step would be to submit the plan to the state.

“Following the ultimate adoption of the plan, whether that’s tonight or at a later meeting, we’ll go ahead and expect to share the document with the state for their review and hopefully, that will result in a notification that we have a state-certified comp plan at the end of the day.”

The council, with the exception of Cacciola, voted to adopt the comprehensive plan.

Later in the meeting the council accepted, with regret, the resignation of Town Clerk Sarah Rapose, who is leaving Richmond, having accepted a position in West Warwick. Rapose’s last day will be March 26, however, the town has already hired her replacement. Richmond resident Erin Liese, who has served as Town Clerk in West Greenwich and Jamestown was confirmed as Richmond’s new Town Clerk.

Liese is currently earning $3,200 more than the Richmond position would pay, but the council agreed to raise her salary to $68,000 in the first year and to $71,000 in fiscal year 2022. The council voted unanimously to approve Liese for the position.

In other town business, Planning Board Chair Philip Damicis presented a review of the activities of the Planning Board over the past year. Damicis also noted that he was pleased to welcome Travis Putnam, the newest member of the board, confirmed earlier during Tuesday’s meeting by a unanimous council vote. The Planning Board membership is now complete, with all positions filled.  Damicis said Putnam’s background in landscape architecture would be particularly useful to the board.

“As of tonight, with your appointment of Travis Putnam, we have a landscape architect, which will be a valuable member,” he said. “You know, every development plan review we go through has some element of landscape architecture, so it’s going to be really nice to have Travis as a member of the board.”

The council voted to re-schedule the next meeting, originally scheduled for April 6, because the Chariho budget referendum is taking place on that date.

The next Town Council meeting will be held on April 20.

If you would like to be added to the BRVCA mailing list, please email BeaverRiverValley@gmail.com.

 

Thank you,

 

Beaver River Valley Community Association

Screenshot 2021-02-23 at 8.52.11 PM.png

Dear Members and Friends of the Beaver River Valley Community Association,

We are pleased to report that tonight February 22nd, the Richmond Zoning Board UNANIMOUSLY VOTED TO DENY Green Development's special use permit request to construct a commercial-scale solar utility system at 172 Beaver River Road. 

We are grateful to the Zoning Board for recognizing and protecting the historic, natural, and scenic value of this landscape. 

Thank you to the many Richmond residents who came together to protect our unique town and its rural character.  Your advocacy, community outreach, meeting attendance, letters and public comment over the past two years has helped raise awareness of the importance of the Beaver River Valley. Thanks to your collective efforts, the rural character of this area – and its wildlife, watershed, and land – will not be sacrificed for utility-scale solar development by non-resident owners and corporations.       

The BRVCA will continue to provide updates regarding this application and any appeals. We remain committed to preserving this beautiful corner of our community for all residents and visitors.  

Thank you for helping us Keep Richmond Rural. 

Sincerely,

Beaver River Valley Community Association 

210220 post.jpg

Dear Members and Friends of the Beaver River Valley Community Association,

 

This Monday, February 22, the Richmond Zoning Board will meet to discuss and vote upon Green Development's proposal for a commercial-scale solar installation at 172 Beaver River Road. Many of you have followed this process for more than two years and expressed your concerns about this proposal. If allowed, this development will forever change the pristine Beaver River Valley from a rural, scenic landscape into one ruined by energy utilities that profit an out-of-town developer. 

 

Please join us on Monday at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom using the details below. 

 

Join via computer or mobile app: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82058808855 

Or iPhone one-tap: US: +13017158592, 82058808855# or +13126266799, Meeting ID: 82058808855# 

 

Or Telephone: US: 1 646 558 8656 or 833 548 0282 (Toll Free) 

Webinar ID: 820 5880 8855 

International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kew6JnHapH 

 

Thank you for your continued support. 

 

Sincerely,

Beaver River Valley Community Association

210220 post 2.jpg
200208 drone.jpg

Dear Members and Friends of the Beaver River Valley Community Association,

 

This week the Town of Richmond will hold two public meetings that may be of interest to all Richmond residents. 

On Tuesday, February 9, at 6:30 p.m. the Planning Board will hold a public hearing regarding the updated Comprehensive Community Plan. This document helps guide all land use decisions and therefore it is critically important that it reflect the interest of Richmond residents. The updated plan can be read here: http://www.richmondri.com/DocumentCenter/View/1897/Comp-Plan-Update-012821. The Planning Board meeting will be held via Zoom and the details are included below. 

On Wednesday, February 10, at 7:00 p.m. the Richmond Conservation Commission will hold a special meeting dedicated to the Beaver River Watershed. The meeting will feature a presentation by environmental engineering firm, Horsley Witten Group, which was commissioned to study the Beaver River Watershed. There will also be opportunity for public input and questions. The Conservation Commission meeting will be held via Zoom and those details are outlined below. The meeting agenda can be viewed here: http://www.richmondri.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_02102021-718

 

Planning Board

Time: Feb 9, 2021 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84151866334

Meeting ID: 841 5186 6334

One tap mobile

+16465588656,,84151866334# US (New York)

+13017158592,,84151866334# US (Washington DC)

Dial by your location

        +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

        +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

        877 853 5247 US Toll-free

        888 788 0099 US Toll-free

        833 548 0276 US Toll-free

        833 548 0282 US Toll-free

Meeting ID: 841 5186 6334

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/keDQ6kungI

 

Conservation Commission

Join via phone:           Dial: 1-646-558-8656 or Toll Free at 833-548-0282

                                    When prompted, enter meeting ID 835 5941 5767#

                                    Press # again to join the meeting

Join via computer or mobile app: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83559415767

 

Sincerely,

Beaver River Valley Community Association

210127 Beaver River solar plant graphic.

Dear Members and Friends of the Beaver River Valley Community Association, 

 

On Monday evening, the Richmond Zoning Board met and continued reviewing Green Development's special use permit request to install a commercial-scale solar utility system at 172 Beaver River Road. The meeting included testimony from Green Development, an attorney representing an abutter opposed to the project, and many Richmond residents who also oppose the project. The meeting lasted more than three hours. 

 

The Beaver River Valley Community Association would like to express our gratitude to the residents, neighbors, members, and supporters who attended and shared their concerns. We are also grateful to the Zoning Board members who were patient, thorough, and thoughtful over the course of the meeting. A full summary of the meeting can be found in Cynthia Drummond's article in The Westerly Sun, attached here. 

 

The Zoning Board is scheduled to meet again on February 22 to render its findings and vote on the application. Please mark your calendars and join us on February 22 at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom. 

 

Sincerely,

Beaver River Valley Community Association

TheWesterlySun_20210127_A01_9-1.jpg
BRVCA-075.JPG

Please see the below articles!

BRVCA-076.JPG
BRVCA-066.JPG