Developers of ‘Wampanoag Meadows’ clear last planning hurdles

Board gives conditional final approval for project expect to begin this summer

By Mike Rego
Posted 5/4/21

EAST PROVIDENCE — The Planning Board, at its monthly meeting April 29, granted conditional final approval subject to amended conditions for the plan submitted by the John Flatley Company on …

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Developers of ‘Wampanoag Meadows’ clear last planning hurdles

Board gives conditional final approval for project expect to begin this summer

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The Planning Board, at its monthly meeting April 29, granted conditional final approval subject to amended conditions for the plan submitted by the John Flatley Company on behalf of owner Driscoll Development LLC, clearing the way for the eventual start of construction on the “Wampanoag Meadows” project.

The proposal, which includes several stipulations placed on it by the Planning Department and part of the board’s unanimous backing, seeks to construct eight units of 52 two-bedroom and one-bedroom/studio apartments for a total of 416 residences.

Each building would feature 26 two-bedroom, 22 one-bedroom and four studio flats. The project also includes construction of a centralized 4,500-5,000 square foot clubhouse for use by residents, potentially featuring a small movie room, billiards table, board games, lounge and kitchenette among other items.

Site work is expected to begin in the summer. Residential construction will follow and be done in phases depending on real estate/housing market conditions over the next 2 to 4 years.

Flatley engineer Kevin Walker told the board rents being considered for the units are estimated to be in the range of $1,000-$1,000 for the studios and the larger two-beds “$1,700-ish.” Mr. Walker said costs of the one bedroom flats would likely “settle somewhere in between.”

Attorney Stephen Antonucci, of the DeSisto Law firm, reminded the board the project would redevelop what was a 55-acre, former gravel pit between Hospital Road, Julie Ann Circle and Wampanoag Trail, would net the city approximately $800,000 in annual tax revenue and would provide East Providence with the “type of housing to attract younger residents.”

The board, which previously approved the masterplan for the project back in July of 2020, had requested the Planning Department follow up on some concerns its members had along with those of abutting residents, specifically pertaining to the impact Wampanoag Meadows would have on the water/sewer system and traffic.

The city hired the civil and environmental engineering firm of Gordon R. Archibald, Inc (GRA) in Pawtucket to conduct peer reviews of the findings presented by representatives of the developers, DiPrete Engineering and Pare Engineering.

GRA employees Brett Neilan and Jon Skaarup, respectively speaking on grounds and vehicles, each said the plans as proposed met the industry standards. Of particular note about the increase in traffic on the Trail, the turn-arounds there and at the intersection with Forbes Street, Mr. Skaarup said while it would be noticeable, the difference between the existing and anticipated number of vehicles was, in his professional opinion, “not as significant as it sounds.”

In his updated presentation Brandon Carr, a senior project manager for DiPrete, noted the Rhode Island Department of Transportation allowed for the re-striping of a “slow down” lane on the south bound approach to the entryway of the Meadows, but state officials deemed there was not the proper amount of space to install a full lane to enter.

Amy Archer of Pare said after revisiting the traffic study though the frequency of vehicles in the area will increase, the rise would not create any additional “major safety concerns.” She added the sight lines of the project were deemed “adequate” and the anticipated potential “incidents” at turn-around north toward Providence around weren’t significant.

As presented by senior Planning Department employee Patrick Hanner, the 12 recommended stipulations are as follows:

  • 1. All proposed contour grades connecting to the existing contours along Wampanoag Trail on Grading and Drainage Plan – No 1 must tie-into or terminate at similar existing elevations in the area of Wampanoag Trail
  • 2. HydroCAD Summaries must be submitted for review for pond 736 and 638 for the backto-back 100-year storm event for consistency with the project narrative and original design
  • 3. Sewer connections at each apartment building must include cleanouts on the exterior of the building for maintenance purposes
  • 4. RIDEM approval of the sanitary collection system is required prior to a final plan approval
  • 5. The easement to allow for the water line parallel to Hospital Road is reviewed by the City prior to a recording in the land evidence record
  • 6. An improvement guarantee is established with the City and the amount is approved by the City Engineer for any improvements within the City’s right-of-way
  • 7. All correspondence with the RIDOT regarding the design of the entrance and exit at Wampanoag Trail must be submitted to the City
  • 8. All State permits from RIDOT and RIDEM shall be obtained prior to a Final plan approval
  • 9. That all expenses incurred by the City for the public notification requirements are paid for by the applicant
  • 10. That the title block of the Preliminary Plan be revised to indicate Final Plan status; Planning Department Staff Recommendation
  • 11. That the Final Plan be based upon the approved Preliminary Plan, and further that the Final Plan and supporting documentation meet the requirements of the East Providence Land Development and Subdivision Review Regulations
  • 12. That the proposal shall meet all applicable City, State, and/or Federal regulations and requirements.

The board also supported an additional requirement that if the hydraulic water tests on the property come back unfavorable the matter would be brought back before the body for reconsideration.

Questioned by board member Chris Grant about the impact of water flows to owners of existing homes on Julie Ann Circle, City Engineer Erik Skadberg said, “We’re confident Julie Ann Circle will drain properly and will not be backed up.”

City Planning Director Bill Fazioli said, in response to an inquiry from Mr. Grant about impact on schools, especially the already at capacity Waddington Elementary, that it’s estimated only 30 students could be added to the roll. The director said his office works closely with the school department to determine the impacts of proposed developments.

Mr. Fazioli noted Rhode Island is “a much older state…not growing like other neighboring states” and anticipates the number of new students is likely to be “far less than” 30. He used the example of the Kettle Point development off Veterans Memorial Parkway, saying the school department currently has no school age children registered from it.

As referred to by the petitioner’s counsel and according to city officials there is a need for quality new housing in East Providence (See graph pictured). Some 84 percent of the city’s housing stock was built before 1980, nearly 30 percent before World War II and during The Depression Era in 1939. Figures quoted in city state just 3.5 percent of housing has been built since the turn of this century, 2000.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.