Update- Planning Board Meeting - March 22, 2022
Board Approves Most Proposed Uses for Aqua Science Expansion
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
March 22nd 2022
RICHMOND — Members of the Planning Board have agreed to recommend the approval of all but a handful of proposed new uses for the expansion of the Aqua Science water treatment company at 310 Nooseneck Hill Road.
The Town Council, at its March 15 meeting, approved comprehensive plan and zoning map amendments to allow company owner Lawrence Casey to build a new warehouse at 301 Nooseneck Hill Road.
However, the council remanded a long list of new proposed uses for the second property to the Planning Board. The board had previously approved a single use, warehousing, for that parcel, but on March 15, Casey presented the council with a new and much more diverse list.
Describing his successful water treatment business as “bursting at the seams” Casey the council to consider the newly-proposed uses, but the council asked the Planning Board to consider the amended application at its March 22 meeting which would be followed, on March 23, by a special council meeting to consider the board’s recommendation.
Board members spent more than an hour discussing each of the proposed new uses for Casey’s second property. Central to the discussion was Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth’s reminder that any zoning changes would remain with the 11.6 acre parcel, even if it were to be sold.
Board Chairman Philip Damicis asked Casey why he had decided to expand the plan he had originally presented to the Planning Board.
“The last time we visited this issue and made a recommendation to council, there were basically two specific uses, and you explained to us why you were looking to re-zone the property for those uses,” he said. “I guess I was just wondering what your plans are and why the 29 new uses that you’re requesting now.”
Casey said his engineer had not accurately presented his intentions at previous hearings.
“The engineer from DiPrete did not represent my application and the vision we had explained … what we wanted to do,” he said.
Casey noted that the introduction of new businesses on the second parcel would be necessary to fund the construction of the new warehouse on the other property.
The expansion, Casey said, would provide facilities for small businesses, creating an enterprise zone.
“We’re looking to develop that as an enterprise zone, where the back yard contractors that are right in our own backyards, here in Wyoming and Richmond, will have a place where they can bring their businesses, start establishing their businesses, getting them out of their garages.”
Casey explained that the businesses on the list had been largely chosen by which company owners had approached him looking for space.
Board Vice Chair Nancy Hess told Casey that while the board wanted to encourage small businesses in the town, it was important to ensure that the expansion did not end up creating sprawl.
“I think we want to be careful to craft something that lets the existing business to continue to expand and be successful, but we don’t start commercial sprawl,” she said.
The board approved most of the proposed uses on Casey’s list, including repair services, offices for trades people, small business offices and outdoor rental equipment storage.
Citing traffic, water use and effluent concerns, the board denied proposed retail outlets, self storage units, towing and storage and indoor horticulture. Members also denied a proposed trade school, voicing concerns about competition with nearby Chariho Tech.
Board member Daniel Madnick reminded Casey that he could still go before the board and present plans for the uses not approved that evening.
“If we prohibit the use now, it doesn’t mean it’s prohibited forever,” he said. “If you come to us with a plan of what you want to do, and want to have that use permitted, then you can come to us with another zoning change request, with a plan and we can go through it. We’ve done this before.”
After the board voted to approve the new uses, Damicis described the additions as consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan.
“It’s 11 use codes and they’re pretty diverse, they’re in line with, quite honestly, with primarily what your vision was, you know, of having flexibility and allowing a lot of different uses in there,” he told Casey. “And I think we can justify this. This is, to me, consistent with our comprehensive plan. They’re not intensive uses.”
The Town Council will consider the board’s recommendation at the special meeting tonight, Wednesday, March 23.
A complete list of the requested uses, which includes uses denied by the Planning Board, can be found here.
Beaver River Valley Community Association
P.O. Box 10, Shannock, RI 02875