Rolling Greens Golf Course, the Corner Tavern and the former Bald Hill Garden Center properties were rezoned as a compact village development following a unanimous vote from the North Kingstown Town Council. The changes come following a rehashing of the CVD zone and the conclusion of a stakeholder group tasked with creating a vision for the intersection after a sizable public outcry from residents concerning a proposed village center at Rolling Greens.
Though Mark Hawkins, developer of Rolling Greens, had applied to rezone his land as CVD, the owners of Bald Hill Garden Center and Corner Tavern did not seek out the changes, according to Council Member Michael Bestwick who told the audience he spoke with the owners about the changes.
Do you agree with the changes? Do you think the rezoning will help create an identity at the Route 2/102 intersection or do you feel it will ruin the rural character of the area?
Still confused about the process? Here’s a brief recap on the Rolling Greens, CVD and Route 2/102 saga:
Back in early 2011, a study of North Kingstown growth centers named the Route 2/102 intersection as “lacking an identity.” Eighteen months later, the North Kingstown Town Council has rezoned portions of the intersection to a newly revamped zoning distract called a Compact Village Development (CVD), which mixes residential and commercial and sets design standards on development.
The aforementioned study, conducted by Horsley Witten Group, predicted that the forecast for the area if action was not taken, adding that the area would likely grow in a “fragmented fashion” if no identity was established. For Horsley Witten Group, an application for a village center at Rolling Greens Golf Course on Ten Rod Road, called “The Preserve at Rolling Greens,” could offer the area some identity.
With its rezoning on Friday night, the Town Council rezoned the Rolling Greens area from residential to CVD, allowing developers to apply for The Preserve at Rolling Greens. The development would bring some 106 housing units (a mixture of homes, townhouses and condos) along with commercial. In the council’s rezoning vote, they moved to allow anywhere between 24,000 and 40,000 sq. ft. of commercial space at The Preserve.
Since its first public information meeting back in December 2010, the Rolling Greens project has come under heavy fire from neighboring residents who oppose additional commercial in the area (even attract business away from the failing Post Road Corridor) and feel the development would ruin the aesthetics of the rural gateway. Neighbors also cited the project would bring additional traffic to the area.
Residents came out in droves to oppose the project and called on town officials to seek public input before jumping forward with the plan. The town acquiesced and formed a stakeholder group tasked with creating a vision for the Route 2/102 intersection in question. The group was made up of a mixture of residents, business owners (including Hawkins), conservation representatives and others from the community. In their consensus, the group felt the parcels of Rolling Greens, Corner Tavern and Bald Hill should be rezoned CVD.
The council, with a positive recommendation from the planning commission, rezoned the areas as recommended with a few alterations. While Rolling Greens went from residential to CVD, the other two changed from general business to CVD. Under former zoning, developers could have built up to 50,000 sq. ft. of commercial on that land. Now, it is capped at a 15,000 sq. ft. footprint – though it could increase if developers were to build a second floor.
According to Planning Director Jon Reiner, the changes make the area more compatible with the gateway South County with development in the area and also allows for more control and direction from the planning commission. According to Reiner, the parcel is about the size of the Stop & Shop plaza just down the road.
“You could have fit the same intensity of development on that one piece of land under the old zoning,” said Reiner.
But, not all parties are convinced. At its Thursday night meeting, the council heard from Jennifer Reay – daughter of Corner Tavern’s owners. Her family has owned the business since 1977 and the new zoning change came as a surprise to the business.
“It seems unfair to us that the property, which has been zoned general business for 35 years, should be suddenly changed because of a vision of someone who is not at the property owner,” said Reay.