No Moves Made On Rolling Greens Development
The NK Planning Commission voted to continue its meeting on a proposed development at Rolling Greens Golf Course to March 15, hoping more information provided by both the applicant and a study of commercial development in town will aid in the decision.
North Kingstown will have to wait until March to hear more information on a proposed development at Rolling Greens Golf Course. In its three-hour meeting Tuesday night at the Masonic Lodge, the North Kingstown Planning Commission voted to continue the discussion to its March 15 meeting to allow the development's applicant – M.L. Hawk Realty LLC, Mark Hawkins, Joshua Hawkins and VKV Realty Inc. – to provide more details and refinement regarding its proposed plan for the land.
The proposed development, 102 acres of land on Ten Rod Road near Route 2 that includes Rolling Greens Golf Course, would require changes to the town's comprehensive plan and a zoning ordinance amendment to create a "mixed-use village overlay zone."
The village would contain a mixture of residential units, mostly townhomes, and commercial businesses. These businesses would not exceed 20,000 sq. ft., according to the applicant's attorney Bill Landry, in an effort to avoid big box stores in the village. According to Landry, the proposed idea would offer a creative approach to development rather than the typical subdivisions and sprawls.
"This is the poster child for towns all over the state that are dealing with development and pressure," said the applicant's architect Donald Powers. "You can either do it well or you can do it poorly. From my experience if you do it according to the zoning that's in place right now, you'll almost certainly do it poorly."
Currently, the land is zoned for residential use with certain areas specified for commercial. Both the Town Council and Planning Commission would need to approve the changes to the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances for the development to go through.
Of the nearly 150 people who attended the meeting, the dozen or so who spoke largely opposed the plans.
"Will this community be better off as a result of this?" Wickham Road resident Dave Layman asked the Planning Commission. "If the answer is no, then I think your decision is pretty clear."
Powers, of Providence-based Donald Powers Architects, showed sketches of a possible concept for the development. Powers stressed they were "just an idea" rather than a firm plan for the land. The sketches showed smaller shops set back from the road at the front of the village, followed by larger stores and then residences. (The applicant opted to not submit an official plan to the Planning Commission.)
Though the applicant looks to put in more units than what is currently zoned (92 units versus 88), the applicant's attorney Bill Landry argued that the real figure to focus on is the number of bedrooms. According to the pre-application proposal, the total number of bedrooms would range from 174 to 184 versus the 354 zoned by the town.
However, those figures are skewed by Mother Nature. The land currently sits on a groundwater overlay district – designed to protect the town's water supply which comes entirely from groundwater – and can only support 54 units, not 88.
Residents voiced concern over building a development in a groundwater overlay district in a town already battling a tough water situation. In September, the Town Council reduced summer water usage from every other day to two days a week and added a fourth tier of water rates for excessive water users. Additionally, the applicant is seeking a hook-up to the town's water supply as part of the proposal.
Another area of concern was the traffic situation along Ten Rod Road. One resident questioned how traffic from the development would interact with the traffic expected from the commuter rail station set for Wickford Junction. Others claimed the area is congested enough.
"Traffic in that area is already bad," said Jeff Ferland, president of the Wickford Highlands Homeowners Association. "In the summer, traffic is backed up all the way to the Home Depot getting on to Route 4."
Despite the concerns aired during public comment, members of the commission warned the audience that this may not be the last proposal for development at Rolling Greens.
"At the end of the day something is going to happen to this property," said Planning Director Jon Reiner.
Adding to that sentiment, Planning Commission Chair Richard Pastore said, "We're trying to control [development] and get the best out of it."
The Planning Commission hopes that, by the March 15 meeting, more data will be available following a study of commercial development in North Kingstown. Horsley Witten Group began its study three to four weeks ago as part of a $70,000 state grant North Kingstown received. According to Planning Director Jon Reiner, the study is slated for completion by this time next year but preliminary data should be available in three to four months. Coupled with more concrete information from the applicant, the commission aims to use the data to reach a decision.