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Letter: Consider Compromise for New Village District

One North Kingstown resident highlights a possible compromise regarding a controversial new village district. The Town Council is set to vote on the matter on Monday, Feb. 27.

At its last meeting, the (CVD) ordinance draft, but delayed a final vote until the next meeting on Feb. 27, 2012 when all five councilors can be present. (Councilor Stamm was absent last week and had asked for the delay.)

Two important aspects of that meeting were that a petition was handed in on behalf of the and that a resident proposed a very interesting compromise solution which addresses all the issues with this problematic new ordinance. The petition reads:

"North Kingstown Residents Petition in Support of a Retirement Community, the Preservation of 90 acres and a Public Golf Course." This sounds great! It conveniently does not mention any retail, which is the only objection we neighboring residents have; therefore we, like all those who have signed the petition, can support this statement. Many of those who spoke out against the retail at planning commission and town council meetings have now signed the petition themselves and it has been submitted to the Town Council.

The petition has no significant value since the objectors are willing to sign it as well. (And by the way, there will not be 90 acres AND a golf course - the golf course is most of the 90 acres.) Finally, the petition, which is directed at one location, Rolling Greens, is irrelevant to the council meeting on Feb. 27, as that vote is about a town-wide CVD ordinance, as has been emphasized repeatedly by town officials.

The compromise offered by the residents simply asks for proper planning and community involvement for CVDs outside the Urban Services Boundary, by requiring potential sites to be previously identified in North Kingstown's Comprehensive Plan and by gaining consensus with nearby neighborhoods. It embraces the entire text of the latest CVD draft (the developer has had input into this document, so presumably finds it acceptable and his lawyer praised it very highly at the last TC meeting), the Statewide Planning document "Land Use 2025" and the report submitted to the Planning Department by the consultants, Horsley-Witten.

It requires that the Planning Department demonstrates that it has been properly pre-planned and why it is needed. (It is also worth noting that Councilor Hueston asked the Planning Director, Jon Reiner, whether the ordinance could be modified to require a consensus of residents before a CVD could be approved, which is one half of the residents’ proposal. He confirmed it could be.) What could possibly be unacceptable about this overall suggestion? Unless councilors allow one project, Rolling Greens, to influence their vote, this proposal addresses all concerns, yet allows planned villages both sides of the Urban Services Boundary. It will be very interesting to watch how the individual councilors cast their votes.

Incidentally, our neighbor town, Exeter, will require proposed village locations to be planned and listed in their comprehensive plan. What we call a compromise will be standard operating procedure in Exeter.

The North Kingstown Town Council should remain uninfluenced by a misleading stunt of a petition and focus on insuring the future of our town is planned professionally and comprehensively, to produce the maximum benefit for the residents, rather than allowing a series of disjointed private development projects designed for personal gain.

Colin O'Sullivan
284 Laurel Ridge Lane, NK

NKRI Transparency February 25, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Excellent idea and compromise.
NKGOP Watch February 25, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Compromise is good. There was another compromise when WalMart was proposed. They would set it way back, so "you wont even see it from the main road" said the then-developer. Now look at what is there! So the compromise was a SHAM, and probably preplanned as well. When you have the NKGOP running the council, particularly the "pickled beasts" faction, watch your back and TRUST NO ONE.
Kevin M February 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
The town spent several years and 60-80K planning the Post Road Corridor; yet there has been absolutely no planning for creating a new village center out at the Oatley's intersection or any provisions to. (The last Comp Plan actually getting away from commercial in this area to protect our watershed). Tonight it is imperative that the TC add eligibility language that requires CVD's to only be allowed in Village Centers previously identified in our Comp Plan like Exeter. The town needs to focus on revitalization and have sound planning and reasoning in place for any development out over our aquifer.
NKRI Transparency February 27, 2012 at 03:15 PM
There has been many comments regarding developer influence with some of the NK TC. Hopefully common sense, resident values and desires will be the focus of the TC decision in voting NO to CVD outside the urban service boundries.
Travis February 27, 2012 at 05:29 PM
The words "common sense" and "Town Council" don't seem to land in the same sentence very often as of late. Tune in this evening I guess....
JB February 27, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Never a dull meeting with this Council. Very true Travis. Watch; they won't let anyone else talk on the subject again since the public hearing was last meeting. They'll just vote. Comments can come after the deed is done....
Colin O'Sullivan February 27, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I have sent this letter to the Town Councilors today: (It will have to be in two or three posts here) Councilors, Before the vote this evening on the CVD ordinance, I urge you to give very serious consideration to including the need for two requirements, which I think are absolutely essential and reasonable in any major change to zoning laws: PLANNING: any new "village", especially one proposed on a greenfield, undeveloped site, should have been reviewed and identified as a potentially suitable location IN ADVANCE and recorded as such in the Comprehensive Plan. CVD developments should not simply be the result of the PC considering the details of a developer's proposal (whether Rolling Greens or anywhere else). It should be clear where "villages" might be allowed and not be developer driven and merely a reactive process by the Town. That is NOT planning and displays a total lack of town-wide vision. Does NK have a Plan, or not? Exeter plans this way and I think it is an excellent and responsible practice to adopt. CONSENSUS: if town planning and council officials allow projects to proceed against the wishes of the residents & tax payers that have to live with the consequences, then how is that either in the town's interests (the For Sale signs will go up and values and property taxes will fall), or how can that be regarded as representing the people of the affected area? (continued)
Colin O'Sullivan February 27, 2012 at 09:08 PM
(continued from above) IF a development proposal is reasonable, residents will not be against it, especially if they have been included in the process. If a proposal is unreasonable why should the residents accept it, or have it foisted upon them? Please exercise your considerable authority tonight with both town-wide and neighborhood interests in the forefront of your minds. Proper planning for residents and involvement of residents in the process should be the best practices our planners should aspire to. They should not be discarded. The residents are the town. END.
Straight Talker February 27, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Well said. I fully agree.
4ResponsibleSitings February 27, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Town wrote an ordinance for a developer over a year ago placing 40 story structures in resident's backyards. Town said "where were you all during the process?" The ordinance is now retracted after the developer got his turbine. Residents have been involved for the last year thru the whole process. What will the town say this time?
Richard February 28, 2012 at 02:31 AM
The TC has very rarely had the best interests of the town in mind. It's high time that the people of NK stand up and demand that the collective good of NK is put first! Creeping commercial development disguised as another hair brained planning idea must cease. When are we going to demand that the Post Rd. corridor receives the attention that it deserves. Don't we have enough empty commercial buildings and homes in NK now! Compromise is good as long as it doesn't become another precursor to more problems for the future. Have you surveyed the landscape in NK lately? We are beginning to look like a town of economic potholes.

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