Planning Board Update - April 12 2022
Stilson Trade Center Proposal Moves Forward
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
April 12th 2022
RICHMOND — Planning Board members, at the April 12 meeting, heard and approved a pre-application for a commercial development at 67 Stilson Road.
Shoreline Properties Inc, owned by Joseph Cattelli, has proposed the construction of seven new warehouse buildings and the renovation of an existing building, which together would comprise a 72,000 - square foot complex known as the “Stilson Trade Center.”
Town Planner Shaun Lacey said the spaces in the buildings would be rented to tradespeople.
“The nature of the use is for skilled trades, contractor services,” he said. “The buildings themselves would be split up internally by individual office and shop space for each business or contractor in there.”
Lacey also noted that while the property is situated in an industrial zone, part of it lies in a natural heritage area designated by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
“Correspondence from the DEM indicates that there are some known plant and animal species that are associated with the area, so I would recommend that the applicant go through a formal assessment at the time of master plan review to ensure that none of those species are observed on the site,” he told the board.
After hearing a description of the plan from project engineer Patrick Freeman, board Chair Philip Damicis said he hoped that an effort would be made to give the development an attractive appearance.
“I know it’s an industrial use, but we would like to see them be as attractive as possible,” he said, referring to the proposed structures. “I know there’s even pre-fab buildings - there’s quite a bit you can do - color selection, materials. The cost is relatively insignificant to get something that looks better. Even if you treat the front facades of the two street side buildings with a little more care as far as what the aesthetics are.”
Board Vice Chair Nancy Hess pointed out that the already disturbed site could contribute to the considerable dust generated in the area.
“There doesn’t appear to be much natural soil there, so one of the things we do have is dust over in that area with all the coming and going, and a lot of that’s not your fault, but if you could provide a little green area that’s going to help you with your storm water management,” she said.
Freeman replied that most of the parcel outside the driveways and the buildings would be grassy.
Damicis said the town would also require the developer to plant street trees.
“I think it’s an opportunity to put in some topsoil, some landscaping, put in a few trees to make attractive,” he said.
Board members agreed with a proposal by Damicis that they visit the site. Lacey will coordinate the visit, which will take place in the coming weeks.
The next step in the approval process is master plan review, which is expected to take place in late June or early July. Damicis said the development would be a welcome addition to the town.
“From an economic development standpoint, it would be great to see this for the town,” he said. “I think it’s a good opportunity, especially if you get some place for tradespeople to do business in. That’ll be a great help to the town, so I look forward to working with you on this.”
In other business, members discussed possible updates to the Planning Board website, which will be amended to make it easier to access information.
Lacey presented the board with several proposed updates, one of which would emphasize the need for volunteers to serve on the seven-member body.
“Putting that right at the top, and just mentioning what the Planning Board is,” he said. “Lower down, we put in sort of a membership link. That’s something that the Town Clerk maintains - the names of all our boards and commissioners…and beneath that, I reorganized our community resources section, slipping down into a lot of the information that [Town Solicitor] Karen Ellsworth helped put together, with a citizens’ guide to public hearings and some other information that we talked about, as far as putting together an updated spreadsheet of projects along with the pertinent documents.”
Several members said they liked the idea of adding a flow chart to the webpage which would illustrate the approval process.
Comprehensive Plan approved
Board members also expressed their relief that the Rhode Island Office of Statewide Planning had approved the town’s updated Comprehensive Plan. The document, which was updated by Lacey and Ellsworth, will guide all development in the town for the next 10 years.
Hazard Mitigation Plan
The town’s Hazard Mitigation Plan is also undergoing an update. Lacey said he was working with the engineering consulting firm, BETA Group Inc., on revisions to the plan, which is mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and expires on July 1.
Lacey said the BETA Group had requested that town boards and residents review the changes and offer comments by early May.
“The BETA Group has asked that our residents and our boards and commissions review it, send us comments as you feel it is appropriate to do so and that you send your writing over to me,” he said.
“We’re trying to get all of our comments from all of our residents and our boards and commissions, our partnering agencies and our neighboring communities by May 2. At that point, the BETA Group will see what types of comments we have and start working on the final draft.”
A link to the draft of the update is posted on the town’s website.