UPDATE: Richmond Town Council Meeting for March 15th 2022
Council Approves Part of Zoning Amendment Request
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
March 15th 2022
RICHMOND — Aqua Science owner Lawrence Casey received approval at the March 15th 2022 Town Council meeting for comprehensive plan and zoning map amendments to allow him to build a new warehouse at 301 Nooseneck Hill Road. However, Casey will have to wait another week for a decision on his second zoning change application for his water treatment company, which would allow him to add numerous new uses to his second property at 310 Nooseneck Hill Road. (Council President Nell Carpenter was not present at the meeting.) Casey appeared before the Planning Board last November, requesting comprehensive plan amendments for both properties from medium- density residential to light industrial. The board recommended that the council approve the amendments, but limited the use of the re-zoned parcels to warehousing.
At the continued hearing during the March 15 council meeting, Casey submitted a list of 30 new uses which
he proposed for the property - uses which had not been submitted to the Planning Board.
The list of newly-proposed uses was modified to exclude fuel storage and delivery, as well as the storage of solar panels, and the “indoor horticulture’ use will not include marijuana cultivation.
Casey told the council that his company badly needed additional storage space and that inviting other businesses to his second property would help finance the expansion.
“I need a facility to grow Aqua Science and the town needs facilities to grow other businesses, whether they be working trades, whether they be small business starting off, we have to help them succeed,” he said. Casey pressed the council to approve both applications, but council Vice President James Palmisciano said the Planning Board, which had not seen the new list of proposed uses, should have an opportunity to consider them.
“The reason it was important to refer it back [to the board] was...there are two pieces to this,” he said. “There was the warehouse behind your existing building that needs to be built and we all agree that that has to happen irrespective of whatever else you need. The second piece was across the street, the new property, and the concern was that your vision and the use code that was assigned were not aligned, so the action was to go away, to work with the planners and determine what those use codes could be, to make sure that we had the right solution.”
Several people, including council member Lauren Cacciola and Economic Development Commission Vice Chair, B. Joseph Reddish, urged the council to approve the application that evening.
Cacciola said, “I definitely want to bring economic development and I think that’s a great opportunity,” she said. “I just don’t know why we’re waiting for one use code, one thing that could easily be changed.”
“We’re not waiting for one use code, councilor Richard Nassaney responded. “We’re waiting for 29.”
Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth explained that it would be important for the Planning Board to thoroughly consider the proposed uses before approving the zone change, because once approved, the additional uses would be permanent and transfer to subsequent owners.
“Zone changes are permanent,” she said. “They come with the land. If Mr. Casey for some reason had to sell this property in a year, all of these uses would still be permitted, and somebody else who doesn’t have Mr. Casey’s good intentions could buy the property.”
Cacciola continued to oppose any delay. “I feel like we are going backwards, because we’re saying ‘this could happen, this could happen,’ what about right now,” she said. “I do agree with everyone, but at the same time, what are we going to be showing to other businesses that want to come here?”
The council voted to approve the comprehensive plan and zoning amendments for the warehouse application, but members referred the second application back to the Planning Board, which will consider it at the March 22 meeting. To accommodate Casey’s tight timeline, the council will hold a special meeting on March 23, to consider the application with its new use codes.
Town Administrator Karen Pinch announced that the town will be receiving two sizable federal grants. The first, an “Economic Development Infrastructure” grant, submitted by Congressman James Langevin, is for $578,000. The second, submitted by Senator Jack Reed, awards $150,000 to the police department for long-overdue renovations to the police station. The larger grant will be used to build a community recreation area on a vacant, five-acre parcel across the road from the town hall. Proposed uses for the property include a pavilion, playground, rest room facilities and a basketball court. The town’s summer camp and other activities, for adults as well as children, would also take place on the property. The grant will fund engineering for the facility, which will include a well, septic tank, plumbing, and the installation of a prefabricated pavilion. A playground and basketball court will also be built.
Interviewed the day after the council meeting, Pinch said the recreation area will be designed to be compatible with a future community center. “The consultant engineer will help us plan it all out with a future community center in mind,” she said.
In other business, the council canceled its April 5 meeting, because the Chariho schools budget referendum will be taking place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. that same day. The only council meeting in April will be on the 19th.
The council also approved a request by 14-year-old Hayden Puglia, of Boy Scouts Troop 1 Richmond, to build several pieces of agility equipment at the Richmond Dog Park as an Eagle Scout project. Pulgia said she will be raising funds for the project and hopes to install a donation box at the town hall.
Beaver River Valley Community Association
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