EAST PROVIDENCE — The Council, at its November 21 meeting, voted to unanimously deny a proposed amendment to the city's existing, and severely out-dated, Comprehensive Plan, which would have …
EAST PROVIDENCE — The Council, at its November 21 meeting, voted to unanimously deny a proposed amendment to the city's existing, and severely out-dated, Comprehensive Plan, which would have allowed the owner of the new Wampanoag Trail residential development to seek other alterations to existing zoning guidelines.
The vote tally was 5-0 against.
The John Flatley Co., the proprietor of what is now known as "The Christine Apartments," was seeking to change the designation of the land where an apartment complex continues to be built from low density residential to commercial mixed use. If the Comprehensive Plan amendment went through, Flatley was then going to ask for two zoning changes as well. But because the Comp Plan request was defeated, the two others became moot.
Attorney Stephen Antonucci, representing Flatley, called the proposed concept a "very thoughtful project." He said the name-sake owner, John Flatley, wanted to "make additional investments" to the property, which when completed will have 416 residences composed of two-bedroom and one-bedroom/studio apartments.
Brandon Carr, a senior project manager for DiPrete Engineering who has been advising Flatley on the development since its inception in 2020, was the main presenter.
Flatley was actually seeking three changes, one to the city's Comprehensive Plan, which was last completed in 2015 and has stalled under the current administration, two others for zoning. One was a similar change to commercial mixed use and the other would allow for the construction of single-family lots.
Carr said Flatley was proposing the commercial section would be at the east side of the site, the frontage on Wampanoag Trail. Included in the proposal would be a 30-foot high, two-story (up to 44,000 square foot) self-storage structure as well as a single level retail building divided into three-units of 2,400-11,000 sf each.
Also, a potential of six, single family lots, 10,000 sf each, would have been built in the southwest corner of the 55-acre parcel near Hospital Road,
A handful of Hospital Road residents spoke, each mentioning the increase traffic on the Trail. Flatley had John Shevlin, Chief Executive Officer at Pare Corporation that conducted the traffic study on behalf of the developer, testify Tuesday. Shevlin refuted some of those claims.
Gert Diquinzio, who owns multiple lots on the street, added a bit more grist to the proverbial mill. Diquinzio said she and her neighbors were were pleased with the initial proposal for the property, which had green space, walking trails and the installation of water line for Hospital Road property owners to tap into.
Diquinzio said everyone was "thrilled with that," but most were now disappointed Flatley was now coming back for a so-called "second bite out of the apple."
Diquinzio claimed that her family, for instance, hasn't ever been allowed to possibly build on three pieces of property they own that are at least 18,000 sf and larger. She said they were told they "did not have enough space," that the lots "were not big enough."
As a refresher, the John Flatley Co. of Canton, Mass., approached the city in 2020 to re-envision the former Leonardo family property between Hospital Road, Julie Ann Circle and Wampanoag Trail.
The 55-acre parcel, conceptualized using the name "Wampanoag Meadows," was once a sand and gravel pit, but has sat vacant for the better part of the last three decades since its viability to supply the industry ceased.
Ward 4 Councilor Rick Lawson, in whose district the complex is located, questioned with several vacant strip/commercial spaces existing in Riverside and was "puzzled" why Planning would want more. He added, the feedback he had received from neighbors was they didn't want the self-storage.
Ward 2 Councilor Anna Sousa spoke mainly to the lack of an updated Comprehensive Plan, saying, "We are piecemealing zoning changes without a big picture plan."
She added there was "no comprehensive idea of what a plan should look like" nor what the impact has on other parts of the community.
Later in the post-presentation discussion, Antonucci mentioned Flatley would able to build certain structures under existing zoning of the property regardless of public or political ascent. A couple of Councilors felt the tone of the attorney's comments were out of line, to which he said they weren't "threats" and did not mean them to come off in that manner.