New Sign at Preserve Entrance Has Residents Buzzing - April 29, 2022
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
April 29th 2022
RICHMOND – There’s a new sign at the recently - completed entrance to The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences at 87 Kingstown Road (Route 138). While it is currently just a large, black rectangle, it is a digital sign that will soon be illuminated, and that is causing quite a stir. Some residents worry that the sign will be too big, too bright, and too distracting to motorists on the busy road.
However, despite considerable hand wringing and speculation on social media, the sign is a permitted use in the “Planned Development Resort” zoning district developed in 2016 for the sporting club and upscale residences.
Town Planner Shaun Lacey, who was not yet employed by the town when the special zoning district was approved, said he understood that it had been created to cover the many diverse uses planned for the parcel, which has since become the largest generator of jobs and property taxes in the area.
“The purpose and the intent at that time was that the town didn’t have a set of regulations that encompassed the range of intensities and uses that the Preserve had planned for,” he said. “So, the town basically developed a sort of floating zone specifically for the Preserve to allow them to go through the permitting process for the various types of amenities and services that they offer at that facility.”
At a Town Council meeting on December 17, 2019, members approved amendments to the new zoning district that had been requested by Preserve owner, Paul Mihailides. One of the approved amendments was for a single, illuminated sign of up to 770 feet on Interstate 95, as well as two illuminated signs, each placed at an entrance to the 750-acre development.
Town Council Vice President James Palmisciano who was not on the council at the time of the December meeting, said that after receiving inquiries about the new sign from several residents, he went back and watched the recorded meeting minutes.
“I did receive a lot of questions from people, both in person and from constituent emails, asking about that sign, because of course, for many people who may not have followed what had happened, suddenly it was there, and they wanted to know what it was, why it was there, or how it was there and how it happened,” he said. “So, I went back and I watched the meeting from December 17, 2019, and watched the presentation to the council, and I looked at both what was written and what was presented in the meeting, and the council did approve that sign. They approved two, 16-foot signs at the entranceway, one at each entranceway, and there was also a request – there were several – I think there were five different ordinance changes on the docket, an initial one which included a sign that would be on [Interstate] 95 which was to be 65 feet up in the air, very similar to what you see at Centre of New England Plaza…If anyone goes back and watches that meeting, they’ll see how the events transpired.”
Responding to a request for comment, Mihailides, in a written statement, described the new sign as a reflection of positive economic growth in the town and throughout South County.
“The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences continues to build on its reputation as the finest facility of its kind in North America,” he said. “On May 1, we will become a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, which will further burnish our reputation and, in turn, that of the South County area. With the further addition of Ocean Side Medical and the OH spa, and upcoming plans for the outdoor brand Orvis to enhance our offerings, The Preserve is going to continue to attract positive attention and economic growth both locally and regionally. Our new signage reflects the positive developments at this property and the area. The sign will serve to help us drive increased business into the community as the gateway to Rhode Island.”
The new entrance sign is smaller than the maximum allowable size of 360 square feet, measuring 330 square feet and 16 feet high. Lacey said he expected the sign would be the type on which the Preserve’s advertising can be posted and changed.
“The sign itself is permitted to be digital, so I think the expectation that I would have is that it will have the ability to have changes in intensity, brightness and color, blinking, flashing, fluttering lights and so forth, you know, anything that is associated with a typical digital reader board sign,” he said.
Palmisciano said the image of the sign that was shown to council members at the December meeting appears to have been different from what was installed.
“I wonder if there were misunderstandings or misconceptions at the time of what exactly was to be going up, and I don’t want to speak for any former council members, because when you’re in that deep, in the moment, you’re trying to make the decision as best you can, but the image that was shown in the council meeting, and if you go back and you look at the image that was held up of the artist’s rendering of the entranceway, it shows a beautiful sign over the archway and it shows an entryway driveway, but nowhere in the image is there a picture of that black, electronic sign,” he said. “That said, in the written piece of the ordinance, it does say ‘two 360 - square foot, 16 - foot - high signs.’ So, that is what I had done for research to answer constituent questions.”
The town does have a dark sky ordinance, which applies to outdoor lighting, but does not include outdoor signs.
Editor’s note: to view the recording of the December 17th Town Council meeting, click on the link provided in this story, and scroll down the menu on the left side of the page to: Town Council, Town Council Minutes, 2019 council minutes, and December 17, 2019.
Beaver River Valley Community Association
P.O. Box 10, Shannock, RI 02875