In the final chance before a decision is made on a development at Rolling Greens Golf Course, NK residents called on members of the North Kingstown Town Council to deny the controversial application.
The plan would bring a mixed-use development of homes and commercial shops to the intersection of Route 2 and 102. Since the plan came to light more than two years ago, a large group of residents has come out to staunchly oppose the project – particularly the commercial portions of it.
According to the master plan for the project, called “The Preserve at Rolling Greens,” the development would include 49,000 sq. ft. of commercial development and 106 housing units - more than the respective 35,000 sq. ft. of commercial and 92 residential units proposed in the last variation of the project’s master plan. (View the full master plan here.)
Many who spoke during public comment at Monday night’s town council meeting believed the findings of stakeholder group, tasked with creating a “vision” for the Route 2 and 102 intersection, should largely steer the council’s decision.
“Public input was overwhelmingly against any additional commercial at that intersection,” said resident Colin O’Sullivan, who was among the stakeholders in the visioning group. “The route we seem to be going down now does not in any way conform to the public input.”
Residents also accused the council of “putting the cart before the horse” during multiple testimonies, urging the council to determine a vision for the intersection as a whole instead of just a portion of it.
“We should be determining growth centers for that area in our comprehensive plan first before adding individual properties to that growth center,” said resident Kevin Maloney, who will be sworn in to the North Kingstown Town Council next week following this year’s election.
Council Member Charles Stamm asked William Landry, attorney for developer and Rolling Greens owner Mark Hawkins, if they would consider capping the amount of commercial to 32,000 sq ft. per the advice of the stakeholder group. According to Landry, Hawkins and company would consider lowering the commercial to the range of 24,000 and 40,000 sq. ft. as advised by the North Kingstown Planning Commission. This range was part of the commission’s conditional approval (which included 22 separate conditions) of the Rolling Greens’ master plan.
Many residents also pointed to the developments just down the road west of Route 4, including Home Depot, Walmart, Shop & Shop and the new train station.
“What do we get at this intersection that we don’t get already?” said Peter Trask, who was also part of the stakeholders’ group.
Two speakers also made claims that the town failed to advertise the meetings properly in the Standard-Times newspaper. The first to make the claim was Exeter Planning Board Member Frank DiGregorio who claimed that notices for the public meetings were not published in the newspaper, thus the public hearings for Rolling Greens were invalid. O’Sullivan presented several copies of the Standard-Times during his turn at the microphone, claiming to not be able to find the ads. Following O’Sullivan’s testimony, North Kingstown Planning Director Jon Reiner pointed out several of the ads in the Standard-Times as well as an area of the paper (about the size of the ad in question, he said) that appeared to have been cut out. Town officials said they would look into the matter to make sure the hearings were properly advertised.
The Rolling Greens project has been in the works for nearly three years, according to Landry. The application was put on hold while the town and North Kingstown Planning Commission retooled the town’s zoning ordinance village zoning district called a compact village development, as it had yet to be used in any developments in town. Under the new master plan, Hawkins is trying to pass Rolling Greens under the new CVD ordinance.
Landry said that the first iteration of Rolling Greens was a “high-impact development on a site that was going to be developed, one way or another.” The CVD, however, would result in the 102-acre parcel remaining “mostly preserved” and “more in harmony” with the surrounding area. He added that the entire CVD and Route 2/102 process that has paralleled the Rolling Greens application has been “the most comprehensive planning” he’s seen in his career.
According to Town Solicitor James Reilly, the council has a deadline to make a decision (positive or negative) on the Rolling Greens application per state law. To give the council more time, Maloney asked the council to inquire as to whether or not Hawkins would grant another continuance.
The council will meet again on 5 p.m. on Friday at Beechwood Center for a final vote. There will be no public comment at that meeting.
On Thursday, the council will discuss and make a decision on the consensus from the Route 2/102 stakeholder group, including zoning changes for several parcels at the intersection. Time permitting, the council may make a decision on Rolling Greens. That meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Beechwood Center.