The recent 3 to2 vote by the North Kingstown Town Council to approve the Planning Commission’s recommendation to change our town Comprehensive Plan just to satisfy the wants of Rolling Greens developer, Mark Hawkins, goes against the recommendation of the just completed market analysis by 4Ward Planning for the town council. Why have a Comprehensive Master Plan if every time someone wants to do something you change it? Why pay for a Market analysis if you are going to ignore it?
This market analysis, completed at the cost of $65,000 tax payer dollars, was undertaken to provide the town planning department, economic development director and the town council with a tool to better understand our community, what we have, what we have too much of and what we should be looking at going forward.
They determined that we have enough single family homes. They also found that we have a shortage of multi-family homes and housing for +55 years old in North Kingstown and that this is where the growth in real estate development should be directed. With the news coming from Electric Boat and others in the Quonset Industrial Park that many new employment opportunities will be coming very soon, it would seem to support the conclusion that we will need more multi-family homes in town.
When they looked at the retail/commercial development in North Kingstown they stated that we are over developed with excess capacity. Again this conclusion would appear to be on target when looking at the empty spaces on Post Road, the Gateway in Quonset, Stop & Shop Plaza on Frenchtown Road, Wickford and Wickford Junction. The advent of sewers on Post Road should help to support new investment because it will allow for changes in type of businesses there that are not currently allowed.
The Planning Commission completely ignored the market analysis as described above. No one mentioned the report at the recent meeting when the vote was taken to recommend the changes at Route 2 & 102 usually referred to as Rolling Greens. This development, which could add approximately 50,000 square feet of new commercial space, will also compete with an additional +70,000 square feet of space being planned at the former Bald Hill Garden Center on Route 2 just around the corner from Rolling Greens and approximately +50,000 on the Schartner property across the street. This would rival the development at Wickford Junction.
Why would we try to push water uphill here? Just look around town at all of the vacant space. Look at the Stop & Shop Plaza that has never been full in 25 years. Look at the former Bailey’s Dodge building that has been vacant for over 5 years. Look at the vacant space at the Gateway at Quonset, Wickford Junction and Brown Street in Wickford. We don’t need any more retail/commercial development to sit vacant in town.
The residents in this area have been very vocal at the planning meetings and the town council. They do not support this commercial development. Why didn’t the majority on the town council listen to the neighbors when they said that they were against the commercial development? The council approved these changes by a 3 to 2 vote with only Kevin Maloney and I voting no. This action by the town council is curious and very disturbing! And this with November just four short months away.
Richard Welch, North Kingstown Town Council
8 Arrow Lane, North Kingstown, 02852