TOWN COUNCIL MEETING REMINDER AND PLANNING BOARD UPDATE
JANUARY 18TH 2021
SPECIAL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING TONIGHT AT 5:30pm
January 18th 2021
There will be Special Meeting of the Town Council tonight January 18, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. followed by the regular Town Council Meeting at 6:00pm. Both meetings will deal with the renewal of Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth’s contract with the Town of Richmond. Please try to attend these important meetings via ZOOM. Thank you.
To attend, please click the link below:
Planning Board Approves Next Phase Preliminary Plan for Preserve
By Cynthia Drummond for the BRVCA
RICHMOND — Members of the Planning Board gave their approval at the Jan. 11 meeting to the preliminary application of the MTM Development Corporation for Phase 2B of the Preserve at Boulder Hills at 87 A Kingstown Road.
The board also approved amendments to the update of the town’s comprehensive plan, and heard a presentation on groundwater protection and management.
The public hearing on The Preserve at Boulder Hills was continued from the Dec. 14 meeting, when Planning Board members asked the applicants, MTM Development Corporation, The Preserve at Boulder Hills III, LLC and Castle Residences LLC for additional information. MTM Development provided an addendum for Tuesday’s meeting which Town Planner Shaun Lacey described as “an updated project narrative, a peer review memorandum, a phasing plan and architectural renderings of the residential and mixed-use structures.”
The application calls for the construction of 58 multi-family and single family dwelling units on two parcels comprising about 76 acres. Two clubhouses are also planned.
Lacey told the board that the developer has asked for deferrals of some of the board’s conditions for approval until the final development plan review. One of the conditions requires soil testing to determine the suitability of the soil for septic systems. The developer asked that this requirement be deferred until the final development plan review and the town has agreed. Another condition pertains to the state requirement that the development include affordable housing units or that the developer pay a fee in lieu of building the units.
“The applicant has offered to provide in lieu fees for the three units that would be required to be set aside for low and moderate income households, so with that said, I’m recommending that the board accept the applicant’s waivers this evening and approve this phase,” Lacey said. The third condition, which the board also agreed to defer to the final development plan review, requires the applicant to submit all state-issued permits to the town at each stage of the preliminary plan review.
Developer Paul Mihailides presented details of the proposed buildings and pointed out that a considerable portion of the 700-acre Preserve property, would remain as open space, even as more buildings are added.
“I know that the board’s very concerned about phasing plans and such, so what we did was, we talked about Phase 3 as future development and I know that we looked within the phase, so Phase 2, being 76 acres, leaving approximately 67 acres of open space,” he said.
Project engineer Brian Males told the board that the applicant should not have to submit state approvals to the town.
“It’s the position of the applicants that the state would not have granted those permits without the applicant having fully addressed those items,” he said.
Mihailides also objected to many of the conditions proposed by Crossman Engineering, which conducted the peer review for the town, saying he had already paid for state permits and therefore should not have to go through another review process.
In a response to a question from board member Gary Parker regarding the affordable housing component, Mihailides suggested that it was possible that rather than paying a fee in lieu of building three affordable units, he might decide to allocate property at another location.
“We have a couple of units at Fox Run that we could turn into affordable units and some other alternative,” Mihailides said. “We’ll just make that decision at the time that we get our approval, but no matter what, the condition will be satisfied.”
The board voted to approve the Phase 2B preliminary plan.
Comprehensive Plan Updates Approved
The board approved the amendments to the draft of the town’s updated comprehensive plan, the document that guides all development in the town.
The state requires towns to update their plans every 10 years. Lacey explained the process, recounting how the Town Council had adopted the amended plan in March 2021 and the plan was subsequently sent to the state for certification.
“In June last year we did receive correspondence back from [Rhode Island Division of ] Statewide Planning indicating that in order to obtain state certification, there would have to be some further changes to clarify some of the text, population projections and some of the mapping throughout,” he said.
Lacey said he had assisted Planning Board Solicitor Karen Ellsworth with the amendments, which were completed in Dec. 2021.
Board Chairman Philip Damicis praised Ellsworth and Lacey for doing the work.
“I know we originally got the comments back from the state, we were looking at going out to a consultant to address them, because of the sheer volume of work that was required,” he said. “So thanks again. I think you really saved the town a bundle of money by doing this in - house and you certainly have expedited it.”
The board voted to recommend to the council that it adopt the amended comprehensive plan.
Lorraine Joubert, director of the University of Rhode Island’s “Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials,” or RI NEMO, program, presented an overview of the town’s groundwater resources.
Joubert also pointed out possible threats to groundwater and the state and local regulations designed to protect it. The threats to groundwater include petroleum contamination, excess nutrients, pesticide contamination and high intensity land use, which increases both impervious surfaces and water use.
Joubert suggested the town look at Charlestown’s groundwater protection measures.
“They’re in the process of updating their conservation ordinance, so yeah, Charlestown is definitely a leader and they should have the conservation development updates completed within the year,” she said.