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Residents Make Final Plea to Halt Rolling Greens Development

All speakers, except one, at Monday night's meeting opposed the project.

 

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  -  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 .

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 . 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.

Noreswindnk November 28, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Sam, I beleive the time is 5pm Friday, not 4, but Beechwood is correct. Please check and confirm to readers. This seems to have a lot of interest.
Mike November 28, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Samantha, the TC changed the Friday meeting time to 5 PM and the mysterious "cutout" in the paper was a list of polling places.
Dave November 28, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Having no public comment at that meeting is a violation of the NK Town Charter, and is something the TC does on a regular basis. I'm not against development but as usual, the Council is bending every rule for this development. Foolish foolish NK voters. North Kingstown Town Charter Sec. 307. - Council meetings; rules. The first meeting of each newly elected council for induction into office shall be held on the first Monday in December, or on the first Monday following certification of the election of its members, whichever occurs last. The council shall meet regularly in accordance with the schedule it shall establish for each calendar year pursuant to the state open meetings law, but not less than once each month. All such meetings shall be open to the public, except as provided in the state open meetings law. Citizens in attendance at council meetings shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard. The council shall have the authority to prescribe its own rules. A quorum to transact business shall be a majority of all the members elected to the council.
Samantha Turner (Editor) November 28, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Just checked and the meeting will be at 5 p.m. They need to stop changing the times on me. My Google Calendar can only handle so much.
Crystal Ball November 28, 2012 at 03:20 PM
"Citizens in attendance at council meetings shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard". Article III Section 307 North Kingstown Town Charter – Show up and make them follow the law (Town Charter)
M. A. Waterbury November 28, 2012 at 03:27 PM
good advice!
Noreswindnk November 28, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Guys, you may be confused as this is not the new council, but the "old" council voting on a matter of record which the public hearing was Monday (Patch article). Sec 307 appears to relate to the new council being convened which happens in December. I was there for the public hearing on RG and I hope you're not asking for a second one!
NK Parent November 28, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Unless I'm mistaken, didn't the visioning committee give the Rolling Green development their blessing as long as it kept the commercial portion under 32,000 sq. feet? I'm not sure why anyone thinks the town council (which has been quite overt in their support for this development) would vote it down entirely at this point. I'll be amazed if this development doesn't happen now -- the best we can do at this point is try to have a constructive conversation about the scope and rural character of the development.
Scott Madison November 28, 2012 at 04:11 PM
The way this whole project is being rushed through with this town council speaks volumes to the cronyism and mistrust the people of North Kingstown have for town government. This council has rushed this thing through over the past few months and is making changes to zoning and the town charter, all while ignoring water, traffic, and urban boundary studies/ordinances all to satisfy the wants of a local developer (Wind Turbines all over again??). Current council members even supported the election of the developer himself to the Town Council. WTF? The way the Town Council has acted over the past 4-5 years that I have lived here in NK as a resident has displayed a blatant disregard to the majority wants and interests of the people that elected them, who they supposedly represent. On the other hand, to what one Patch reader has posted before. Stupid is as Stupid does. North Kingstown residents get what they deserve as they voted back in Dolan & Hueston and adding McKay.
Crystal Ball November 28, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Town Charter applies to the current council..... Every Town Meeting regardless if it's a "matter of record which the public hearing was Monday". "Citizens in attendance at council meetings shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard". It says NOTHING about only during a public hearing! Citizens may not have been able to attend the hearing on Monday..... That is the reason why EVERY TIME there is a Town Council Meeting there MUST be public comment. Liz Dolan is the ONLY one that has not followed this rule - all previous town council did follow this rule in the town charter....
NKhannah November 28, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Why do people feel like there must be a public comment on friday? They just had it open for comment and it drags out already elongated meetings. If its only the vote, I'd rather save the time of sitting listening to people talk nonsense and go over their THREE MINUTE TIME LIMIT that is also in the rules but is clearly overlooked by such people as Colin and Kevin. You also are only suppose to be speaking to the TC not the crowd. As well as not taking jabs at people (that aren't subtle or go unnoticed). They don't need to hear your reasons for or against you will not sway them anymore. They clearly know where you stand.
Colin O'Sullivan November 29, 2012 at 01:13 AM
@NKhannah I agree with you that there does not appear to be a right to public comment on this matter on Friday prior to the TC vote being taken. That right to speak is at the Public Hearing, which was held Monday. However, I think where people are getting confused is that the public DOES have the right by law to be heard during the public comment period of any TC meeting, but that is at the end of the agenda, and will therefore be AFTER the vote on Friday. Where we differ is that I do not believe I was talking "nonsense" as you claimed. And you will find the Town Solicitor agrees with me. My main point last Monday at the TC meeting was that the Town had not complied with the law regarding proper notification of the Public Hearings. The Comp Plan Amendment application before the TC had not been advertised. The law requires 3 consecutive adverts. The solicitor has confirmed to me that this application will be withdrawn by the applicant (only the Comp Plan, NOT the Zoning Plan Amendment). Check out the published agenda for the meeting if you doubt me. I am intrigued by your comment that public discourse "will not sway them anymore" (sic). Are you telling me this is one of those "done deals"? Please explain - and how about replying under your own name, openly, as I have done, and with the same level of civility I have utilized. That would be honest and refreshing!
Colin O'Sullivan November 29, 2012 at 02:25 AM
@Mike, Thanks for explaining what the cutout from the newspaper was. Frankly, I was stunned at the suggestion at the TC meeting that I had cut out the Town's legal notification, then stood up in front of the Council claiming they had not placed the advert... - and then I gave the newspaper to the Planning Director for him to search for it! Do they think I am THAT daft? Incredible. So, full disclosure: I cut out the list of polling stations as part of my preparations for the Nov 6 election day. Remember, I was a candidate and I narrowly missed out being elected, coming a close sixth out of 14 candidates for 5 seats. On the back of the list was an ad for State Rep Larry Ehrhardt and part of an ad reminding voters to take ID to the polls. NOTHING sinister or underhand at all. The Town had simply failed to comply with notification requirements, as has now been confirmed by the Town Solicitor and the Comp Plan Amendment application is being withdrawn. That's all.
Dave November 29, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Scott, you are 100% right! Sadly this pattern has been going on for a longer than the past 4-5 years that you've lived here. The same pattern existed on the school side until Halley and his supportive cronies (Dolan Hueston and others) were discredited and forced out. I thought perhaps people were unhappy enough with the turbine, rolling greens and the sad state of businesses on Post Road and Wickford to have a similar revolution on the town side, but apparently not. It's my opinion that there aren't enough people who know who is responsible for those poor decisions, I think if voters bothered to learn more about who they were voting for, we may have seen a different outcome. As it was, I think it says something that Kevin M and Dick Welch were elected, and several tc incumbents either lost or very narrowly won. As for Kerry McKay, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt until he proves he's on the dark side.....but I sure won't be surprised if that's the way it goes down.
It is what it is November 29, 2012 at 01:54 PM
@NKHannah I totally agree with you. These meetings have gone on long enough, with almost the same group of people speaking out in opposition and the same few speaking in support. At this point, the long winded rants are both tiresome and fairly repetitive. We know whose in opposition and we know whose in support and like you said I doubt anyone is getting swayed to the other side this late in the game.
Steve December 01, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Hannah , I have followed this process closely and must agree that I have reservations. This is not about our Town, if it were then the TC would look around at all the vacant buildings, potential detriment to our water supply amongst many other issues. The TC needs to listen to the people who voted them into office and I am curious as to why they would support individual interests. There is a reason the process is being rushed through and regardless of which side anyone is on, this process is flawed and people have aright to their opinion and concerns at they pertain to the RG development. As noted, this has gone on for close to two years. Why not let the NEW TC tackle the problem maybe they could reach some accord between all of the stakeholders.
CompassCarrier December 01, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I have the feeling that voting in McKay is like voting in Charlie Stamm Junior.
NK Parent December 01, 2012 at 05:35 PM
So, did the vote happen last night as planned?
Govstench December 01, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Unless there is a specific date written in to the charter change ballot question or a local ordinance or state law that governs when a charter change shall go into effect, if the voters decide to change a local charter, it would go into effect as soon as the results were certified as official.
Govstench December 01, 2012 at 09:46 PM
This Rolling Greens Development only encourages urban sprawl and will destroy the "open spaces" unique to North Kingstown. It appears the "fix" was already in play for this development. With the recent election past us and the configuration of the town council going in the same direction as the previous, perhaps the word is just not getting out to the electorate to stop these kind of projects. I will still ask the bigger question, "What is the town doing about Post Road, besides tearing up the highway to put sewers in?" Any economic incentives, tax relief, business grants relief?
Politics Sheriff of NK December 03, 2012 at 01:12 PM
NKh, I'm sure you've heard of the first amendment. People can "take jabs" and its even been sustained in federal court you can even raise your voice, and swear at council members within reason as an exercise of your expression. Of course certain rodents would try to "have you removed", but then anyone with the guts to match the constitution could then join the long list of similar abuse-of-power victims around the country and ultimately win compensation for their rights having been violated. Google it, the cases are all out there.

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