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Planning Board Update for August 9th, 2022

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Work Continues on Aquifer Protection


By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA

August 9th, 2022

RICHMOND – At the Tuesday meeting, members of the Planning Board continued work they had begun last January on revisions to the town’s zoning ordinance regulating the protection of the Aquifer Overlay District and the uses permitted, restricted or prohibited within the district.

The aquifer protection district is the area of town located above the drinking water aquifer, and the purpose of the proposed amendments is to preserve and protect the quality of that groundwater

Members discussed three zoning changes:  a proposed new chapter of the zoning ordinance entitled “aquifer protection overlay district,” amendments to the use table, and amendments to the town’s zoning map.

The board has proposed dividing the aquifer overlay protection district into two sub-districts. Sub-district A, which will pertain to the sole source aquifer and well head protection areas, will have the most restrictive use regulations. Sub-district B will comprise groundwater recharge areas.

Agreeing that they needed technical expertise, the board has consulted with Lorraine Joubert of the University of Rhode Island’s Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program, and engineer Todd Greene of the firm, GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc.

Greene, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he had considered several factors in preparing his draft opinion.

“One was water quality…maintaining water quality and also use, yield, and how future development may or may not impact the neighbor in the draw-down it produces,” he told the board.

Greene said he also looked at the possible impacts of hazardous materials and how the town might regulate them. Since most of the town is residential, he noted that home heating oil leaks and spills would be the most likely sources of contamination.

Board member Nancy Hess said ground water in non-residential zones also needed protection.

“That’s of concern to us as well,” she said.

Board Chairman Philip Damicis added he was concerned with commercial – scale contamination.

“A homeowner might have pesticides and things like that, but of a very small scale, so we’re worried about someone who might be a major retailer who’s got tons of fertilizers or pesticides or whatever.”

Hess asked Greene about natural nitrate loading.

“How do we know what a site’s pre - development, natural nitrate level is, versus projected post-development?” she asked Greene responded that the only way to assess ambient nitrates would be to conduct a focused study.

Board members agreed to continue the aquifer protection discussion at their September meeting. They also hope to review the proposed amendments at a joint workshop with the Town Council, which is expected to take place in late September or early October.


More changes proposed for Harvest Acres Farm


The board approved the pre- application by John and Cindy Duncan for a two-lot subdivision of their property at 425 Kingstown Road.

Formerly the “Harvest Acres Farm” nursery and farm stand, the 70-acre parcel now houses 17,000 solar panels in two arrays, installed by developer, Green Development LLC, in 2017.

The Duncans want to subdivide the property into two lots, one, of about two and a half acres, would include the existing house. The remaining land, 67.4 acres, would continue to support the solar arrays.

Hess asked the applicants’ surveyor, Norbert Therien, what would happen to the existing greenhouses and retail building, since there is a possible buyer for the smaller lot.

“What’s going to happen to the retail sales building and the greenhouses in the rear?” she asked.

Therien replied,

“The greenhouses behind the existing residence, they may stay, but in all likelihood, I suspect that they would go, or at least be relocated,” he said.

In his memo to the board, Town Planner Shaun Lacey recommended an expedited plan review which eliminates one step in the approval process.

“Procedurally, minor subdivisions are typically reviewed in three stages: 1) Pre-application; 2) Preliminary Plan; and 3) Final Plan,” he wrote. “State law requires Pre-application review for major subdivisions, but allows cities and towns to forgo that conceptual review stage for minor subdivisions. Since the proposal only seeks to subdivide an existing property into two lots and does not include any development, staff recommends that the project proceed directly to the Preliminary Plan review stage.”

Hess made a motion, which the board supported, to approve the pre-application and an expedited plan review.



Beaver River Valley Community Association

P.O. Box 10, Shannock, RI 02875



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