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Council majority says no to developer 

A majority of the Town Council said Tuesday night they are not interested in further communication with Legacy Development of Missouri about a proposed retail outlet development for the town’s industrial park.

Although some council members were interested in continuing negotiations with the company, others agreed there have been some unusual demands in the several proposals brought before the town.

The majority vote by Council President Denise deMedeiros, Vice President Joan Chabot, Brett Pelletier and Peter Mello directs Town Administrator Matthew J. Wojcik to notify the Kansas City based development company that the town is “not interested.”

That was Wojcik’s recommendation before the council discussed the latest proposal, which is the third from the company. The first was for a 550,000-square-foot development that would require tax incentives from both the town and the state.

The local tax incentive was dropped in the latest proposal, but Legacy asked for a purchase-and-sales agreement for up to 560 days while it sought permits. Its offer of $5 million for 108 acres in the industrial park also came with the stipulation that the town would have to use half of it, or $2.5 million, to beautify the police station and Department of Public Works garage that would be at the entrance to the proposed retail center.

In addition, the proposal required that a cell tower that provides revenue for the town would have to be taken down, Legacy Vice President for Development Bart Sides said in his letter to the town dated July 29.

Wojcik said it is “outrageous” that a potential buyer would tell a seller what they could do with the money from a sale.

“This horse has been kicked to the point where it is blue,” Wojcik said of Legacy coming back with new proposals time and again. He also said residents have made it clear that “retail is not a favored option.”

“I don’t know how many times I can say no to these guys politely,” Wojcik said.

“I think the townspeople have spoken in their desire to have no retail,” Mello said.

The council minority on this issue — Joseph Sousa, David Perry and Jay Lambert — said the town needs revenue and the terms of the proposal could be negotiated.  Sousa said the proposal would give the town a chance to undertake much-needed infrastructure repairs to the police station and DPW garage. He also mentioned the benefit of jobs for the town’s young people that could be created from the project.

“It’s a win-win,” Sousa said. “It could be something good for the town.”

“I would like to at least keep the communication open and give them a fair hearing,” said Lambert, acknowledging that he does not know if it is possible for the cell tower to be moved or if the town is able to cancel the lease it has with the tower company.

Perry said he is “amazed” that residents who spoke against a retail development for Souza Road are now speaking against this proposal, even though some of them at the time said retail would be better in the industrial park than on Souza or Main roads.

Pelletier works as a real estate consultant and said that for him, the “main deal breaker” in the proposal by Legacy was the requirement that the town enter a purchase agreement for more than a year while the company seeks permits and financing. He said there were several other “total nonstarters for me,” referring to the letter from Legacy that laid out one of the proposed deals.

“I didn’t like the last proposal, and I don’t like this one,” Chabot said. “It’s not a good investment,” adding that while the tax incentives would no longer be sought from the town, they still would be sought from the state.

“I have not liked Legacy from the beginning,” said deMedeiros, who called some of their proposals” absurd.”

The final vote to inform Legacy the town was not interested was 4-1-2, with Sousa against, and Perry and Lambert abstaining.

 Copyright © 2016 Edward a. Sherman Publishing Co. 8/10/2016

Tiverton outlet center developer and council to talk Monday

TIVERTON — Additional details — that could include public financing — about a proposal to locate a 130-acre outlet shopping center at the Tiverton Industrial Park will be discussed between the Town Council and the developer at a Council meeting Monday, Jan. 25.

The meeting is currently set for 7 p.m. in Town Hall, but depending upon the level of interest shown, could be changed to another venue.

The idea of an outlet center was first broached publicly at a council meeting in late November, when Legacy Venture West Development (Legacy Development) of Kansas City and the Town announced they had reached a “stand still” agreement on Nov. 23.

That agreement allows each side an exploratory period of 90 days to study the possibility — to do due diligence — without the risk of intervention by other potential purchasers.

If the whole deal goes through, Legacy and the Town of Tiverton have agreed to a purchase price for the acreage of $8.25 million.

Likely at the top of the list to be discussed by the Council and Legacy at the upcoming Jan. 25 meeting will be the level of public financing that Tiverton and the State of Rhode Island might be prepared to offer, and that Legacy might seek.

“Legacy is being asked what kind of public incentives from the State and from Tiverton it’s going to seek to make the project work,” Town Planner Marc Rousseau said. In other words, he said, “we’re asking Legacy to have their public finance guy tell us at the council meeting what they’re looking for.”

That could include tax increment financing and tax exemptions, he said.

Since November, Mr. Rousseau said Legacy “has been busy doing its due diligence” about the prospect of building a multi-unit outlet center at the location.

That due diligence has involved numerous issues, Mr. Rousseau said — “basics like access roads and building location.”

The basic configuration for the outlet center that’s being considered “is a horseshoe arrangerment,” he said, “and there’s a lot of wetlands on the site.”

Legacy has had site engineers from DiPrete Engineering Associates, traffic engineers, and an architectural-design firm from Kansas City (Hoefer Wysocki Architects) — all studying the site, Mr. Rousseau said.

“What we’re telling them,” Mr. Rousseau said, is that “the bylaws for the Industrial Park [now called the Tiverton Business Park] and zoning” will have to be complied with.

That means, he said, “any retail complex at the site has gotta be special and meet the code.”

“No building can be larger than 40,000 square feet, and there has to be 20 feet between buildings,” he said. And they also “have to comply with the Comp Plan [Comprehensive Community Plan].”

Last November 23, in comments to the council, Legacy’s Vice President of Development Bart Sides sketched out what Legacy had in mind for Tiverton.

“We do have a concept called ‘The Legends,’ which has been very successful in Kansas City,” Mr. Sides said then. “It’s an open air shopping center with a lot of landscaping.”

The type of retail outlet he’s talking about, Mr. Sides told the Council, “is typically not a big box concept. It’s usually 15,000 square feet or smaller. We have some tenants that go up to 35,000 square feet. We don’t want to rule out a big box if the right people come along, and if the community is open to that, and we certainly want to talk about it. But generally speaking this is not a big box concept.”

The Legends Outlets shopping center in Kansas City has about 110 stores. See: www.legendsshopping.com. By comparison, Wrentham Village Premium Outlets in Massachusetts has about 170.

Locating the proposed outlet shopping center on the northwest quadrant of the 172-acre Tiverton Business Park would entail moving the town police station and the Department of Public Works barn, now situated at the far northwest corner of the property near the intersection of Industrial Way and Fish Road, to another part of town.
There have been persistent rumors that one site for the two facilities might be further back into the business park and along Progress Way, near the Tiverton Power station.

The “stand still” agreement cost Legacy $2,500, and allows for a “potential extension of 60 days by mutual agreement of the parties.” This could peg the expiration of the 150-day “stand still” time frame to about the end of the third week in April.

There was to have been a meeting between Legacy Development and the Tiverton Economic Development Commission (EDC) on Thursday, Jan. 14, but for reasons that were not disclosed, and that are unclear, that meeting was cancelled or postponed, to allow Legacy to bypass the EDC, and to talk directly with the council instead on Jan. 25.

There have been suggestions, in letters to the editor and elsewhere, that Legacy and Capionato Development Group, whose proposal for a 63.4 acre multi-use development almost directly across Route 24 from the intended site of Legacy’s proposed project was nixed by the Town Council last year, had been in talks with each other.

Asked about that, Mr. Sides said, “I have no comment on Carpionato. We are very focused on the Industrial Park site and creating a project that is acceptable to the residents of Tiverton.”

552,000-Square-Foot Development Proposed for Town Industrial Park
By Marcia Pobzeznik
Correspondent Newport Daily News   January 23, 2016


Legacy Development of Missouri, which is proposing a 522,000-squarefoot development with retail, restaurants and a 120-room hotel for Tiverton’s industrial park, is scheduled to give a presentation Monday night to the Town Council.


The retail proposal for the 177-acre industrial park is one of several options the town is considering for the property that fronts on Fish Road and Route 24. The only tenant in the park to date is a natural gas-fired electric generating plant.

“As a council, we’re showing you exactly what our offers are,” Town Council President Denise deMedeiros said. “This is just a concept the Town Council has decided everyone needs to see.”


If too many people show up at Town Hall on Monday night, the Legacy presentation will have to be continued to next Monday at the high school, deMedeiros said, but that decision will not be made until the start of the meeting at 7.


The meeting could not be moved because there are two show-cause hearings that night for the demolition of two fire-ravaged homes, and the site of the hearings was part of a legal advertisement and cannot be changed, Town Clerk Nancy Mello said.


Legacy Development submitted backup materials Thursday night for its presentation. The 73-page file contains mostly pictures of some of the 50 other developments it has built in 14 other states, most of them in the Midwest.


The proposal for Tiverton, entitled “The Legacy Outlets of New England,” would have a five- to seven-year buildout and would rely on tax-increment financing agreements to help support the project, which Town Administrator Matthew J. Wojcik said might sway some away from supporting the proposal.


“If they say the only way to make this work is they give us a tax treaty, I’m a lot less interested in the concept, because they’re not doing anything for us,” Wojcik said. “I think these guys do really nice work, but at the end of the day, they could build one of the most perfect things, but if the numbers don’t work and the town doesn’t come out financially ahead, I fail to see the point of it.


“If you’re going to change the town forever, you better feel like you’re walking away with a few million,” Wojcik said.


“Legacy needs something from the town and the state,” Planner Marc Rousseau said of public incentives it is requesting for the proposed project. “They want a long-term real estate tax increment financing agreement with the town.”


On one page of the backup material, Legacy has a statement: “But for TIF (tax increment financing) the project may not be economically feasible to the developer, and therefore would not occur.”


Emera Energy, owner of the power plant, also has indicated an interest in buying the remaining land in the park for future expansion. An indoor sports facility has lined up financing for its project, which would use about 10 acres, Rousseau said, and Blue Sphere, an electric generating plant that would use food waste as fuel, still is in the picture. It would need 15 acres.


“We don’t have a purchase and sales agreement with anybody,” Wojcik said.


“All of the options are all very much alive,” deMedeiros said.


A map showing the basic layout of the proposed Legacy development includes square footage estimates for the total project. There would be 390,000 square feet of space for village outlet shopping/ restaurants, two additional restaurant/ retail areas with 35,000 and 23,000 square feet of space, and a four-story, 120-room hotel, for a total of 522,000 square feet. There would be a total of 2,462 parking spaces.


Legacy has offered the town $8.5 million for the land, but would need the property the police station and department of public works garage are on, so the town would have to build new buildings for those departments. Wojcik said a new police station that could be located in the rear of the property could cost up to $6.5 million. A DPW garage could also be located in the rear portion of the town-owned property.


The council majority last July rejected a proposal by a Johnston-based developer to change the town’s comprehensive community plan to allow a mixed-use retail, office, hotel and conference center development on 64 acres at Souza and Main roads and Route 24. That land is zoned residential and also would need a zone change. Over 1,800 residents signed petitions asking the council not to change the comprehensive plan to suit a developer’s needs.


The industrial park land is zoned industrial, but has an overlay that allows for retail development as long as none of the buildings are over 40,000 square feet, Rousseau said.



Sakonnet Times


Opponents of development say public hearing should be stayed

By Marcia Pobzeznik


Members of the Don’t Mall Tiverton group will file a formal protest with the Town Council contending that it should not proceed with a public hearing Tuesday, July 7, on comprehensive community plan changes and zoning amendment for property on Souza Road where a mixed-use development is proposed.

The public hearing should only be scheduled after the Zoning Board hears the appeal of the Planning Board’s approval of the master plan, the group contends.

At the July 7 hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. at the high school, the Town Council is scheduled to hear comments on proposed changes to the comprehensive community plan and a zoning amendment that would allow the Carpionato Group to build a large mixed-use development between Main and Souza roads and Route 24.

Carol Hermann, Renee Jones, Bruce Hathaway and Louise Durfee, all members of the Don’t Mall group, contend that the council should not hold its hearing until the appeal is decided.

The group expected the Zoning Board to hear the appeal at its Wednesday (July 1) meeting, but the matter was not put on that agenda. The earliest it can be heard is August.

Town Solicitor Stephanie Federico said Thursday that the council hearing could happen regardless of the appeal.

“These are three separate issues,” Federico said of the comp plan, zoning amendment and master plan application.

The Don’t Mall group maintains that the council’s public hearing is on changes requested by Carpionato, and it would be a violation of state law to proceed with the hearing.

“An appeal stays all proceedings in furtherance of the action being appealed,” the group said in a press release, citing RIGL 45-23-68.

The group also objects to Federico advising the Zoning Board on the appeal because she was the attorney who advised the Planning Board on the master plan application that included the comp plan changes and zoning amendment. That is a conflict of interest, the group says.

Federico said she would be representing the Zoning Board “in an advisory capacity and not in an advocacy capacity. We don’t have any stake in the game.” She merely advises the board members of the law, and they decide how to vote, she said.

The Planning Board will be represented at the Zoning Board hearing by special counsel William Harsch.

Don’t Mall plans to take part in the council’s July 7 hearing, if it goes forward.

Petitions have been circulating for weeks asking the Town Council not to approve the changes to the comprehensive plan and zoning amendment that would allow Carpionato’s proposed retail, hotel, conference center, offices and apartment complex plan to proceed.

Jones says four petitions were stolen from the counters of area businesses.

Signatures are being gathered for the petitions because the proponents of the development maintain that “the same 50 people” are against the development, Hathaway said.

“That was the impetus to say, ‘OK. We’ll show you,’” he said.

Hathaway, who lives close to the proposed development, got involved after hearing how many cars would visit the site every day. Some 25,000 car trips per day would wreak havoc on the area, he has said at many hearings.

The group won’t say how many signatures they have collected.

“It’s impressive,” Herrmann said.

“This is an example of being horrible to small businesses,” Jones said of those who support the mega development that would negatively impact small businesses in town.

The votes the council will take on the matters are “the votes that count,” Herrmann said. “This is the vote that will change our comp plan and zoning.”

“Four people will make the decision on this, unlike the casino where the whole town will get to vote,” Jones said.



Sakonnet Times

By Marcia Pobzeznik


Letters to the Tiverton Town Council have been piling up slowly. They arrive by mail and email and are put in a file folder. The folder will soon be emptied and the letters copied for the seven council members prior to its July 7 public hearing on whether the comprehensive community plan should be changed to allow mixed use development, and whether the zoning of land on Souza Road should be changed from residential to mixed use.

If the council votes in favor of both, Carpionato Properties will be able to move ahead with its plan to build a 65-acre mixed-use development between Main and Souza roads and Route 24 that would have 300,000 square feet of retail space, a 125-room hotel, conference and event center, 73,000 square feet of office space, and 90 apartments.

About 25 letters are in the file. Four urge the council to approve the requests, while the rest urge council members to vote no.

“This is the worst idea to hit Tiverton in years,” wrote Dennis Ambrose. “Please vote against it….It would cover 28 football fields. Tiverton should have nothing close to this size. Very few folks I’ve met favor Tiverton Glen.”

Resident Don Stewart disagrees. In a letter written to the council several months ago, he said: “I believe I am a member of the vast majority of Tiverton residents who heartily support The Carpionato Group’s proposed development, Tiverton Glen.” A resident of The Villages on Mount Hope Bay across Main Road from the proposed development, Stewart said the residents of the villages “understand the importance of a convenient and attractive shopping venue that will help support the tax base of our town..I believe that most of the town’s residents anticipate only positive prospects from Tiverton Glen.”

Not so, resident Todd Moore said in his letter. He calls the proposed development “a scar.” Moore writes that Tiverton is “not like Providence or the endless tangle of strip malls and plazas that choke such towns as Cranston, Middletown, Warwick and the like…. I’ve not seen any data that supports any contention that the mall would have any significant positive impact on taxes, only assertions of ‘best case’ scenarios advanced by the developer. What about ‘worst case? How about the issue of quality of life and the perceptions that aren’t as easily quantified, but certainly can have real impacts on real estate values and why people choose to live in a community?”

Bob Parent, saying he is in favor of The Glen, told the council they have “difficult issues ahead of them between casino gambling and The Glen, a busy time for sure and a crossroads for the town.”

Former Councilman William “Bill” Gerlach, who served with many of the present council members, urged them in a twopage letter not to allow the development to move forward. He lists four main reasons for his opposition. The longterm viability of retailers within the market density in the area is questionable, Gerlach said. There is a lack of a truly comprehensive economic impact study, and any tax revenues directly received would be offset by decreased residential property values and the loss of existing small scale “mom and pop” businesses “that exemplify the true character of Tiverton.” The town would be letting “an outside developer strongly influence the backbone of our community” in the form of our comprehensive community plan and zoning regulations.

“We cannot be so quick to fix one problem (town finances) at the risk of creating what appears to be a potential laundry list of others,” Gerlach wrote.

A development of this size “is not compatible with what we hold so dear,” he said of the town’s innate geography and natural beauty.

“This development is not worth selling Tiverton’s soul for,” Gerlach wrote.

Edward and Betty Jerome wrote that it is ironic that they are working on preserving 85 acres of their property which has historical and agricultural value, while the town is considering allowing 63.5 acres “to be uprooted, bulldozed and even disturbing the dead, to become a mall for what is being touted as something we ‘need.’ What we don’t need are strangers with big ideas that are more than willing to set up a camp, put a strain on our resources and in a few years, leave the town to pick up the pieces.”

The Jeromes told the council: “As guardians for the people of Tiverton, you are faced with one of the biggest decisions ever made for our town…It is our hope that you let your conscience be your guide.”



New post on EastBayRI.com

Planners forbid Main Road access to Glen Say developers should link big project directly to Rt. 24

by Tom Killin Dalglish

TIVERTON — The Planning Board voted 7-1 Thursday to approve the 63.4 acre Tiverton Glen multi-use development Master Plan proposal, but imposed over a dozen conditions, one or two of which could be deal-breakers.

At stake is the proposal by the developers (Carpionato Group of Johnston) to build an $80-$100 million complex of 20 buildings between Main and Fish Roads, along the north side of Route 24 and south of Souza Road.
Key among the conditions — laid down by a separate 5-3 vote — was the requirement that the development not have an entrance from Main Road. Signs along Main Road for the entrance would be gone, as no longer needed.
Instead , the board said the developers should create an entrance directly off Route 24, most likely from the Fish Road southbound on-ramp to 24, onto a frontage road that would run parallel to the north side of Route 24.
"They'll have to sell themselves to the state," said Planning Board Chairman Stephen Hughes on Thursday night.
Access off Route 24 would require state approval but Carpionato has previously said that the state has told the company that it will not approve an entranceway from or along Route 24.
A Main Road access point, just a few blocks north of the Main Road bridge across Route 24 — and in the heart of the Osborn-Bennett Historical District — has for two years been a much-touted feature of Tiverton Glen.
The developers talked about a conference center, and restaurant, where weddings could take place, or a hotel (that was the original idea), that would front on Main Road. An access road off Main Road would lead beyond these to the retail esplanade, parking, and office/residential units, that would lie uphill and to the east of Main Road — an estimated 20-buildings in all. There was to be, and still is planned to be, access from Souza Road.
But Main Road access has drawn opposition. It would require at least four stop lights in about as many blocks, and would increase congestion and traffic backups on the road, some said.
It would interfere with school bus pick-ups and drop offs, and parents driving children to and from school, said Tiverton School Superintendent William Rearick. A traffic study carried out at the behest of the developer was conducted when school was not in session, so didn't catch the school-day traffic ebb and flow, the opposition said.
"Everybody agrees there would be huge impacts on Main Road," said Planning Board Vice-Chairman Stu Hardy, listing noise, litter, dust and traffic among them.
Detractors also said that Main Road access would impact the Osborn-Bennett Historic District, through which the entranceway would pass. Getting rid of the Main Road access, said Mr. Hughes, "was one of the conditions I was thinking of, so that the historic properties on Main Road would not be affected."

This house at 1148 Main Road — that the
                            planning board said must be maintained — is
                            part of the historic district. The land
                            beyond would be part of the Tiverton Glen

This house at 1148 Main Road — that the planning board said must be maintained — is part of the historic district. The land beyond would be part of the Tiverton Glen development.

One of those properties was the Corr House at 1148 Main Road in the Osborn-Bennett District, which the planning board stated "needs to be maintained" as one of the conditions of approval.
"We're stating the conditions now, so the developer knows about them at the Master Plan stage, not later at the preliminary plan level," said Mr. Hughes. He said he didn't want the developer to be able later to claim surprise.
Other conditions the planning board voted to impose include the following:
• That adequate water be available for both drinking and fire suppression. The two water companies delivering water to the 63.4 acre site have thus far hedged on giving assurances that enough water exists to fight a big fire at the site.
• That mixed uses exist through all phases of construction. "This is a mixed use development and I want to make sure it's a mixed use development in all its phases," said Mr. Hughes.
• That a full traffic study be completed, during a time when school is in session.
• That all lots that comprise the 63.4 acre development site be merged, not be separate, or separable.
• That there be written approval from fire and police departments.
• That there be more social and community areas in the development site.
The planning board also voted five positive findings (unanimously this time) that the Master Plan application is consistent with the town comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances, presents "no significant negative environmental impacts," creates no impractical constraints on building on the site, and that the development would have access to public streets.
The planning board retains jurisdiction over the Master Plan; it does not go to the town council for review or consideration.

Comp plan and zoning changes
The "comp plan" language changes and the zoning changes — to what is being called the Mixed Use Development District (MUDD) zoning ordinance amendment — will soon be in the laps of the Tiverton Town Council.
The first planning board vote Thursday night was to finalize a recommendation made late last month, to give the okay to language changes in the town's comprehensive community plan (the "comp plan") that could pave the way for the development.
That new recommended "comp plan" language is just a paragraph in length. It had been approved on March 24 by a 5-3 vote of the planning board, with Vice Chairman Stu Hardy, Carol Guimond, and Rosemary Eva voting against. The final language presented Thursday was unanimously approved to be sent to the council.
The MUDD zoning changes (10 pages long) were discussed in detail Thursday night. A majority of 5-3 (with Mr. Hardy, Ms. Guimond, and Ms. Eva voting against) approved the MUDD changes, as being consistent with the comprehensive plan and with the purposes of zoning.
Those proposed zoning changes will go to the administrative officer and legal counsel to the planning board, for the preparation of final language, to be presented to the planning board at a meeting on Tuesday, April 28, at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

Tom Killin Dalglish | April 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm |


"Public Hearing Could 'Make or Break' Mall Plan" Reports Daily News


In an article by Marcia Pobzeznik in the February 4th, 2015 edition of the Newport Daily News.  The articles covers the Planning Board meeting of Feb 20th with quotes form chairman Steve Hughes.


The board is considering changes to the town Comprehensive Plan, changes requested by the developer, the Carpionato Group with additional changes proposed by the board.  These changes are necessary for the proposal to move forward.  As the Comprehensive Plan now stands, a proposal of the scale and type contemplated by the Carpionato would never be permitted.

Copies of the proposed changes are available on the town's website at www.tiverton.ri.gov/ or in the town clerk's office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., at Essex Library or here:


Proposed Amendments to the Tiverton Comprehensive Plan


Tiverton Glen process mired in comp plan change debate

Durfee: Meeting between developer executives, town officials  smacked of ‘back room’ dealing


Sakonnet Times, December 23, 2014.

By Tom Killin Dalglish

Planning board Vice-Chairman Stuart Hardy (left), Chairman Steve Hughes, and administrative officer Kate Michaud, along with others on the planning board, discussed the Tiverton Glen project for three hours. Photo by Tom Killin Dalglish


TIVERTON — Residents are going to have to wait at least another month for the planning board’s recommendation regarding the massive Tiverton Glen (formerly Tiverton Crossings) mixed use development project.

Around 50 citizens gathered in Tiverton High School last Thursday for yet another of the board’s meetings on the subject. A dozen or so speakers offered comments; none spoke in favor of the project but some were angry about the process.

Before the board began its discussion of the developer’s proposed language changes to the town comprehensive plan, Planning Board member Rosemary Eva raised a point of order, questioning a meeting that had taken place between town officials and Carpionato representatives.

Reading from a monthly report of November activities dated Dec. 3 — from board Administrative Officer Kate Michaud to board members — Ms. Eva noted that Ms. Michaud met on Nov. 13 with the town’s consultant, Ken Buckland of the Cecil Group, Town Administrator Matt Wojcik, Carpionato Group’s two lead executives on the project (Joseph Pierek and Kelly Coates), and Carpionato’s planning consultant, Joseph Lombardo.

The purpose of the meeting, Ms. Michaud’s memo stated, was “to discuss the Comprehensive Community Plan amendment process.”

Ms. Eva questioned the propriety of the meeting.

Planning Board Chairman Stephen Hughes said the meeting had been cleared by the town solicitor, and that there was judged to have been no Open Meeting Act violation, “since the meeting was between staff.”

Former Town Council Chairwoman Louis Durfee questioned the meeting’s propriety. “It looks like they are greasing the skids for amending the comp plan,” she said. “Why the Cecil Group was meeting with the developer at all raises the question of a back room deal. That was wrong.”

Five days after the meeting, Ken Buckland wrote a memo to the planning board, describing the various steps involved in the “Comprehensive Plan Amendment Process.”

Mr. Buckland’s memo made no mention of having met with Carpionato’s executives and planner.

Hurdles stall progress — a “long, long way to go”
The agenda for the meeting referenced three actions that might be taken: “possible deliberation and vote,” and “possible adoption and recommendation,” regarding, first, proposed amendments to the comprehensive community plan (“the comp plan”); second, proposed zoning changes; and third, the developer’s master plan application.

None of those came to pass.

Instead, after a long discussion about language changes to the comprehensive plan, the board unanimously kicked the can down the road — to continue its review of the changes to the comprehensive plan and meet again on Jan. 20.

“It was a consensus by the board,” said Board Chairman Hughes, “to amend the comprehensive plan based on proper wording of the elements involved, and then to vote a decision based on that.”

What those specific language changes are, was not clear. No votes were taken about particular wording, just references made to “consensus” about points discussed during the evening.

Mr. Hughes said that any wording changes in the comprehensive plan will be crafted by staff, the committee consultant, and solicitor.

The revised draft language about the comprehensive plan will then be brought back to the board.

Amendments to the comprehensive community plan are considered crucial to the project. Unless the plan language is amended, Mr. Hughes said, the project is dead in the water.

“Even if this phase were to pass,” said Board Chairman Steven Hughes at during Thursday’s meeting, referring to the comprehensive plan language changes the developer wanted, “there is a long, long way to go.”

TheTiverton Glen project is massive. It would be located on a 63.4-acre site along Route 24, roughly between Main and Fish Roads, and be built over several years at a projected cost of $80-$100 million.

The project would include a hotel, restaurants, retail businesses, luxury residential units, office space with light industrial uses, research and development facilities, commercial and professional office space, and one large retail building.

Comp plan concerns
The town’s comprehensive plan, to which development proposals area supposed to adhere, includes among its goals preservation of the town’s rural character.

Part of the project on the west, along Main Road, abuts the Osborn-Bennet Historic District.

“The impact on the historic district will be very negative,” said Planning Board Vice Chairman Stu Hardy. He said the pasture behind the historic structures “are very much a part of the historic nature of the district.”

Mr. Hardy said the plan for the project, “is more radical than they realize. It’s radical. It guts the historic area.”

Carol Herrmann, who lives in the district, said the proposal, “leaves the integrity of the district so severely compromised as to destroy its eligibility for the Natonal Register.

She said the Carpionato Group “has made no attempt at all to address these continuing concerns.”

‘Substantial’ financial benefit
The meeting began with a fiscal impact analysis by Wimborne and Summertree, consultants retained by the planning board to analyze project revenues and expenses.

“We did conclude there was a net positive,” said Paige Bronk, a certified planner, and one of two experts to address the board. “There was a substantial net benefit.”

Their report, dated Nov. 20, 2014, predicts a $1.933 million annual impact on the town ($2.1 million in revenue, minus $220,000 in costs).

Their figures were’t challenged, but their methods and calculations were.

Wayne Karsenski asked if other towns were consulted that had mixed used developments (they weren’t). Renee Jones asked about impacts on economic enterprise zones.

Cecil Leonard asked if small businesses might be hurt by mixed use development.

He also asked how revenue projections could be developed without knowing what businesses (that the developer has so far not publicly identified, he said) might be in the project, and who their customers might be.

Responding to Mr. Leonard, consultant Alan Booth, said they did not talk with local businesses.

One speaker said there is no “worst case scenario” contained in the fiscal impact study, and said the board should require one.

© Sakonnet Times, reprinted with permission



Last modified: January 24, 2016