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Mixed-Use Development Debate Rolls Along

The parameters regarding a potential village at Rolling Greens Golf Course remain a point of contention among members of the NK Planning Commission.

Argument on whether to amend the town's comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances to accommodate a village center at Rolling Greens Golf Course continued Thursday at the Beechwood Senior Center. 

If approved, the amendments would help pave the way for developers to begin construction on a village center west of Route 4 at the Route 2 and Route 102 intersection—a location not far from residential neighborhoods. 

During the meeting, Planning Director Jon Reiner said the commission “should be looking at more compact development,” as it better utilizes infrastructure and services.

According to Reiner, the village center would be somewhat of a throwback. From a historical perspective, towns were “much more compact; you had a lot more happening in smaller areas,” he said.

Of mixed-use development, Planning Commission Member Jeffrey Michaelson said it would be “nice not to have to drive everywhere.” Harriet Powell, also a member of the commission, echoed Michaelson’s statement, adding the close proximity of commercial and residential areas would be a boon to residents’ gas budgets.

Paul Dion and Chip Palmer, however, said they favor implementing “thresholds” or fixed ratios for commercial versus residential development as a means of curbing excessive industry in residential neighborhoods. 

While Palmer acknowledged that setting such parameters could prove tricky and potentially stifle growth in certain areas, or fail to cater to changing markets, he proposed the parameters be set to provide a "level of comfort" to those fearful the potential village at Rolling Greens will create too much traffic.

Chairperson Dick Pastore and Commission Member James Grundy said sweeping parameters are not solvent. Pastore said issues presented to the commission must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. “That’s the way it’s worked pretty well for as long as I’ve seen it,” he said. “You need the latitude to do what you feel is right.”

Grundy added, “We have to evaluate the benefits and the detractors from each individual area.” Reiner agreed, stating “no two sites really match up with one another, so it’s difficult to put a box around it.”

Pastore’s predominant concern with the potential village center, he said, is the construction of a seemingly mammoth pharmacy with features that don’t mesh well with the exterior aesthetics of North Kingstown—a pharmacy similar to the Walgreens on Route 2 in Warwick, he said.

Bill Landry, lawyer for Rolling Greens developer Mark Hawkins, said it would be up to the Rolling Greens team to show the commission such a store within the mixed-used development is able to be altered in a way that “fits the spirit of the village.”

For Colin O’Sullivan—a resident who spoke on behalf of residents from Wickford Highlands opposed to the village center—“cherry picking” from the town’s comprehensive plan to qualify a potential village center is “not a fair way to approach [the issue].” 

The commission will reconvene August 16 to discuss the subject further and work toward decisive action on the issue.

Richard July 10, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Ralph, amen!! Another fine example of our officialdom considering the totality of the impact upon the town as a whole. The planning director(who does not live in town) seems to think that development (such as Reynolds farm) will be a boom to the town. What's a few more empty store fronts or apartments or whatever going to hurt. I love the drive down Post Rd. It is becoming a mirror image of many small towns all across this country that are riddled with empty buildings. But what the heck let's add some more, it will be good for the town's development. Never deal with the existing problems, just ignore them. Then pile on more of the same, using all the fancy vogue terminology of the day. It's not an issue Ralph, the taxpayers will eat it up, they will probably even pass more bond issues in the future to exacerbate the problem. Remember bonds don't cost anything! When do I vote?
4ResponsibleSitings July 11, 2011 at 03:00 AM
They aren't generating a village. That's just the ploy to allow them to re-zone. They are just opening the door for the western most edge of Wickford Junction!!! This is a pipe dream thinking these businesses will cater to just 88 senior homes. These Seniors will still jump in the car and run over to WalMart to buy what they need cheaper. Meanwhile Mr. Grundy is protecting Allentown (his backyard) where the consultants recomended a village, while they shove this down our throats where the consultants recomended against!
jaxson July 11, 2011 at 06:19 AM
Hey I am all for buss coming to the Town of N.K.and bring some jobs to this area but N.K.'S Officials do not allow alot of business in. I see way to many banks coming to the town and oh by the way they are not lending money. And oh by the way unemployment still way up there. And oh the Reynold's Farm project where it will supposedly be low income housing, shopping, etc. The very sad part is the taxpayers of this town will most likely be paying for the low income part. I find it very annoying that I have lived here all of my life and have owned property and HAVE NO CHILDREN IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND MOST OF MY TAX DOLLARS GOES TO THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND when if it ever happens that N.K implements town sewer's quote unquote you should be able to get low loans to help pay for it just like you are supposed to be able to get low loans for replacing an old septic system but it always seems that you either make to much money or there is no money left if in the grant. NO WONDER SO MANY HOUSES ARE UP FOR SALE IN THE STATE OF RI AND PEOPLE ARE MOVING OUT. WE DON'T GET MUCH FOR OUR TAX $$$ ANYMORE. I might see some of the exemptions when I reach the ripe old age of elderly exemptions etc but then they probably will stop them. Then they want to mess with the state pension now. If all of the City's and Town's contributied way back when until now it might be okay. So now everyone who is collecting a pension has to sit back and wait and see what they do to us.
seed and soil July 11, 2011 at 01:47 PM
My ...how great minds think alike! I see your comments here and also on the Super issue and am encouraged to see articulate and intelligent reasonable thinking still exists in our community. This debate conversation saddens me. What do we all treasure so dearly about North Kingstown? What should we as stewards of our unique gem be doing to preserve it's special quality and characteristics? What do we see those elected or hired by taxpayers doing instead? Mind boogieing to even consider amending the comprehensive plan to meet the needs of a developer. When this group purchased the property, they knew what the rules of the game were. Let them deal as best they can with the rules as they stand. Clearly they have a right to implement something, but should municipality leadership step in and bend well thought out plans...intended to protect the natural and character resources dear to our community?? I hope residents do not stand idly by and allow greed and misuse of power convert NK into just another Warwick or Cranston.
NKGOP Watch July 18, 2011 at 01:57 PM
NK has been for sale to the highest bidder by the nk republican town committee members like dolan and co, - WHO VOTED HALLEY TO BE PARTY SECRETARY AND ENDORSED HIM FOR ELECTION which he lost, and the idiots in town keep reelecting the same unethical scum rather than run new honest people in a primary to sideline the old gang. Democracy - you get exactly what you deserve. Now the same losers in office will amend the comprehensive plan to suit another money interest (just like they did with the statue of liberty sized wind turbine in a residential neighborhood) so they can get their cut as usual. And guess who will be elected in 2012 in North Kingstown again? Dolan and her cohorts. North Kingstown - like a schoolhouse in summertime, NO CLASS.

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