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Letter to the Editor: Residents Don't Want a Village Center at Rolling Greens

The North Kingstown Town Council will consider a new zone for the town.

This coming Monday, the NK Town Council is being asked to consider a new Compact Village Development (CVD) zone for the town. In essence, they will be creating a whole new village center at , over our prime groundwater protected land that the taxpayers have spent millions to preserve and protect. 

Our planning department has convinced the Rolling Greens developer to patiently wait while they draft a “town-wide” CVD zone to fit the Rolling Green area. The developer will retract his proposed multi-use zone request upon its passage and reapply under the new CVD. The town will feel obligated and certainly not deny the developer CVD zoning after convincing him into waiting through this process.   Therefore, they essentially will be creating a new village center against local residents' wishes if approved as is.

Over the course of the past year, the town has brought in a until the town involves the local stakeholders in the process to determine what they want this area to be. The town then hired a second consultant (Consensus Building Group) to start a consensus project, but pulled the plug before it began. This pivotal decision delivered a huge blow to the local community and sent a clear message that the town has made up its mind with this area and does not want to hear from or have the residents interfere, many of whom have called this home for the last 15 to 20 years.

When town residents voted on the open space bond to buy development rights on the Schartner (Bald Hill Nursery) property, they certainly wouldn’t have approved it if they knew the town council was going to bring in a retail center to be built in the area five years later. The residents weren’t setting aside and buying the rights for one specific property: they were buying up rights to start protecting the area as a whole. A mall was proposed there a few years earlier.

Creating an entire new village center (from seven to eight) will be the largest modification to the 2013 Comprehensive Plan. Although not “technically” approving Rolling Greens to be re-zoned to CVD at this meeting, approving the CVD will essentially create this new village. The underlying issue remains. Will the town council allow more commercial or not in this area? 

Creating a new village center will affect the property values of approximately 300 residents and should be a community decision and comprehensive plan decision, not a five-member council decision. With all the land in NK, commercial vacancies all across town, creating a new village center on groundwater protected area is irresponsible. With mandates of protecting and preserving the groundwater throughout all of the town documents in North Kingstown, how can creating a whole new village center – where no village currently exists, over groundwater protected land – possibly be construed as protecting and preserving our number one resource? 

While we are not opposed to the CVD zone for the town – we actually support it – and are in favor of it, there are several major flaws. 

There needs to be a requirement that all eligible properties should be located inside the state-defined Urban Boundary Zone, which by definition encourages commercial building within and discourages commercial outside. The Urban Boundary Zone runs along Route 4 with the east side designated as commercial.  We’ve been told by planning commission members that the Urban Boundary Zone used to be farther west, encompassing the Rolling Green property, and previous NK officials asked the state for it to be moved east to protect the area.  Town officials have already created a major problem over this exact issue when a 10-acre property in that area was re-zoned to commercial, (with the intent of selling the development rights and preserving the land).

One of the underlying arguments we have heard is that creating this village will solve that poor decision which has led to the state not accepting our comprehensive plan. While this quick fix may solve the immediate problem, it opens the door for more developers outside the Urban Boundary Zone to request fair and equal treatment to them, creating even more villages. Solving one bad decision with another.

There also needs to be equal or more stringent groundwater protections put in place than currently drafted, limiting sewage flow rates. There should be no more sewage flow allowed in groundwater protected areas than current standards allow. Groundwater protected areas should also have a max limit of 50 percent less impervious cover than non-groundwater areas.  nd all intra-TDR’s should be removed from the CVD.

Fix the current TDR (transfer of development rights) problem. Don’t allow a new substitute that will deteriorate the original TDR program (which sends development rights to Post Road where the sewers will be) even more. Under no circumstance, without these requirements, can any of this be considered preserving and protecting our groundwater. Standards are supposed to get more stringent over time as technologies improve, not more lax.

Simply put, the majority of the residents that consider this area their home do not want any more commercial development and they do not want a new village center located here. This is the gateway to the farmland, not Bald Hill South or Wickford Junction West. Creating a new village center should be a community decision. Finish the consensus study first to determine if the town wants a village center here, and then approve the CVD.

With all the land in NK, creating a new village center on groundwater protected area is irresponsible, and not something five individuals should rush into in one or two nights. Please attend Monday 7 p.m. at the and help preserve this area.

Kevin Maloney  
78 Wickham Road
North Kingstown, RI  02852

MeanE November 03, 2011 at 01:16 PM
I see "ground water protected area" in the letter many times. What does this mean in North Kingstown? I don't have a dog in the fight, but I do question this argument. Rolling Greens is/was a Golf Course. Golf Courses use harmful pesticides. Most ground water protected areas were designed to prevent pesticide pollution to groundwater. What am I missing here?
seed and soil November 04, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Incredibly well researched, thought out and expressed. I hear this same sentiment over and over and over again from community residents. It is beyond comprehension why any TC members would support this development. Bottom line or me is the developer purchased this land knowing full well it WAS NOT zoned for the use he had in mind...he took a risk....there is no way the residents of NK should be held holding the bag for their poor investment risk. TC members...the eyes of the community are squarely on you. Do you take your responsibility as a trusted steward of the resuorces precious and unique to our community? Or are you instead going to make it all too clear to the residents/voters of NK who you answer to...(read your developer pals and your campaign contributors). Last time I checked they are not making any more charming, eastern seaboard coastal communities graced with history, beauty and a treasure trouve of natural resources. When you have something of value, you hold a solid vision for protecting it, nuturing it, caring for it. Allowing more unchecked, unwanted, unneeded commercial (mixed use) development in this area where the taxpayer has already paid dearly to preserve would be beyond irresponsible.
Noreswindnk November 04, 2011 at 08:57 PM
I'm not as well versed in this as I should be, BUT, 574 new residential homes are moving toward the commercial corridor of Post Road. If that means some commercial properties must move to the highly residential area(s) to make up for this, then STOP. Generally, commercial areas for commercial purposes, residential areas for residential purposes. We can use common sense and put little 10k sq.ft. shops in CVD villiages, however, residents choose not to live next to the next Walmart, S&S, Home Depot, or Job Lot. Who would? If the town would show the residents near Rolling Greens that they will be/would be protected from such future villians, they may find common ground between nearby residents and the developer.
Edris Crockford November 04, 2011 at 10:41 PM
We wholeheartedly agree with Kevin M. The fact that the PC is seeking the TC's stamp of approval on such a far-reaching zoning change, which is not only detrimental to an important groundwater area & to the farmland character of the area, but is also against the wishes of the community, is just incredulous! We strongly urge the members of the Town Council to listen to your constituents and not allow such drastic changes to our zoning & Comprehensive Plan without community input & approval! Ralph & Edris Crockford
NKGOP Watch November 05, 2011 at 04:32 AM
I dont know about this particular deal, but in general NK is for sale as long as NK keeps electing the SAME LOSERS over and over again. Get it? Dolan/Hueston/Bestwick in particular DO NOT CARE. They laugh at voters after they get in office again. Just go to www.northkingstown.org and LOOK at them in action, nothing more revolting was created on Gods green Earth! No one of true quality will do a "Doreen" and run, force a primary (because the parties always put 'their own' scumbag inbreds up), win that primary and WORK for a victorious seat on the council. Until quality people do what Doreen Costa did, the NKDEMS and NKGOP will get drunk, make their deals with slurred speech, and you can CHOKE IT DOWN when they 'sell approvals' to their scumbag backbencher friends who cant make all their money the honest way. If you want a better town, then run for office. All it takes is THREE LOUSY SEATS on the council, and the character to do the right thing in office. And by the way, where is the NKTO? We need a NEW taxpayers/voters group to help the RIGHT people get into the process and start winning these seats. Remember THREE members of the council can clean the planning commission, zoning board, and everything else of the vermin. Meanwhile get used to higher taxes, worse density, slashed services etc etc etc. While a few really cash in!
Dave November 05, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I totally concur with the views expressed by Kevin M in this letter. There is no real comprehensive planning going on in this town with a larger vision of what the overall town will look like/function as. There is a dying commerical zone in town, revitalize it! Stop forcing new commercial zones that will turn into empty buildings. The new projects undertaken recently have no rhyme or reason and were mishandled, ie Gateway project. That should have been another South County Commons. STOP what you are doing and start some real planning with the community instead of working out deals with different developers to their (and your own) benefit. Kevin, your letter needs to go in the Standard Times and Independent as well.
jeff November 05, 2011 at 03:56 PM
The Gateway is an EDC/QPD project.
PLAINTRUTH November 05, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Kevin M's letter is excellent! He has shown the residents of NK what is really going on here. Our elected and non-elected TC and PC members need to understand that the backroom deals and cosy friendships they have with some developers are being exposed. Their planning missteps, use of taxpayer $$millions to preserve areas only to support commercial development on the same and neighboring land a few years later, their railroading of NK residents by summarily dismissing state funded research into what should happen with the area at Rolling Greens (Horsely-Whitten and the MA-based Consensus company) and many more aspects of this saga all add up to an amazingly arrogant and blatant agenda they will force upon the residents unless they are stopped. All the research Kevin M has done and the fact that he has published it in the Patch and N E Independent (yes it has already appeared there. see earlier request from Dave) has done the whole town a great service. Now it is up to us to turn up at the TC meeting, Monday 7pm @ The Beechwood Center and show the TC we DO NOT WANT THIS. Be there. Bring your family, neighbors and friends. If this CVD overlay becomes a town-wide zoning type, Rolling Greens style projects will appear all over NK on greenfield sites. There will be no way the PC/TC will be able to deny future applications without facing yet more developer lawsuits due to the precedent Rolling Greens will set. Thank you Kevin M, now it is up to the rest of us.
Kevin M November 05, 2011 at 06:12 PM
The golf course and Oatley’s are currently proposed to remain on site with 88 senior housing units and 35,225 sq/ft of retail is in addition to that. Their latest nitrate studies for that site showed 68% of nitrates coming from sewage, 24% from fertilized area (including golf course), 4% pet waste, and 4% rainwater. There are excess amounts of nitrates being absorbed into the ground which may lead to having to treat the water. The abundance of impervious cover (from parking areas and roofs) prevent rainwater from absorbing into the ground and recharging our aquifers. Groundwater protection is not just about pesticides, but quality and quantity of the drinking water sources. Standards are suppose to become more stringent as technology improves. At the very least, we need sewage flow limits imposed consistent with what can be built with todays zoning.
Govstench November 06, 2011 at 11:25 AM
The bottom line to this Town Council is that it is bought and paid for by the special interests. The list is long of the mis-steps of this council and the residents need to keep going to these meetings and voice opposition. Ultimately, the residents need to decide whether this council is serving their best interests. I think we all know the answer to that question. This latest proposal is an disaster in the making.
Dave November 06, 2011 at 03:00 PM
The Town had a lot of say in the development of the Gateway project including negotiating what type of retail buildings went there.....in addition the Town negotiates and contracts with with QDC over aspects of caring for that property. I'm sure the contract favors the businesses in there and screws the residents, if it follows the pattern of how these people operate.
PLAINTRUTH November 06, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Reply to MeanE: Yes it is strange that a golf course using chemicals can be in a groundwater protection area. But, I am not sure they use a lot there, because the fairways are not watered, which is why they are in poor condition in summer. What is certain is whatever this developer builds there, it will increase the nitrates being put into the ground already (see detailed reply from Kevin M, already posted). So our aquifer will be under additional threat. You said you "have no dog in this fight". Well, if you live anywhere in NK you certainly DO. If this aquifer is overburdened with water extraction for new development, or becomes polluted, then the west part of NK will have to draw water from elsewhere, affecting neighboring locations. Remember, we already have some pretty strong water restrictions imposed in the summer months. Also, if this CVD zone is created, then ALL of NK becomes fair game to developers, including all greenfield, farm and semi/rural areas even outside the state-recognized Urban Services Boundary. It is crucial to keep development inside the USB which is the whole point of the boundary in the first place - otherwise what is it for? The NK TC & PC must be made to accept this and abide by the intent of having this line (along Rte 4). See you at the TC meeting 7pm 11/7/11 at Beechwood? Any NK resident that does not attend cannot complain later when future developers move into their neighborhood under the CVD zone the TC will consider for vote on Monday.
Richard November 07, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Completely agree Seed. This is another example of our TC not caring one wit for what the taxpayers of NK want or express as their wishes. If one were interested enough to look into the process from the beginning, one would possibly discover some interesting connnections between various officials and other parties to the process. Hint: check board of elections contribution lists and then connect the dots. This one stinks beyond all of the stated reasons above. We need some serious changes in this town. Don't we already have enough empty eyesores? Why build more and make special accommodations for that to happen! The people of NK need to wake up and pay attention, we are being bled by a thousand cuts, its got to stop!
Richard November 07, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Watch, I do not often agree with you, especially on SC issues, but on this one we're all in! Keep your eyes peeled your wish for change is coming. It will happen.
SoxFan November 07, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Thank you for your excellent letter Kevin. I share your concerns about groundwater protection and that this needs to be a community decision. We certainly do not need more commercial space as we have so many vacancies in the Post Road and Wickford areas. Wickford Junction also has commercial space available. The NK/RI economy is certainly not growing and will only get worse as taxes inevitably increase as a result of the pension crisis. Expanding commercial space makes absolutely no sense. There is no doubt that NK needs some long range planning and really needs to revitalize its existing commercial areas before adding any more.

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