News & Event
By NICOLE DOTZENROD, Valley Breeze Staff Writer
LINCOLN – The “Lincoln Lofts,” proposed to transform the former Sayles Mill building off Walker Street into apartments, moved forward in the planning process Tuesday night after the Lincoln Zoning Board agreed to grant parking relief to the project.
The developer, Dakota Partners of Waltham, Mass., came before the Zoning Board to apply for dimensional variance for parking relief to renovate the former factory building at 90 Industrial Circle into 45 units of affordable housing. Lincoln’s Technical Review Committee members recently called the mill complex “the Wild West for parking,” but recommended the approval of the application on the basis that the proposed ratio of 1.67 parking spaces per unit, or 75 spaces total, would be enough to accommodate the needs of future residents.
Under the town’s current regulations, 45 units of housing would require 90 parking spaces. The Zoning Board approved the developer’s application for a parking variance, bringing the required number of parking spaces down to 75 total, or 1.67 spaces per unit, due to lack of space for additional parking on the property.
Rio Sacchetti, a project manager for Dakota Partners, said market-rate rent is usually one parking space per unit, and affordable housing is usually .8, according to data by Rhode Island Housing. Board member John Barr noted that Lincoln has a very limited bus service, and that the RIH numbers may be based on the state’s urban areas and may not be applicable to this project.
“We originally proposed 64 spaces, and after meeting with the town planner, zoning official and Technical Review Committee, we came up with a parking formula based on the 100 percent affordable housing, which uses the number of bedrooms,” said Mary Shekarchi, attorney for the applicant.
Shekarchi said she worked with town officials on the formula, which essentially grants two cars for each of the project’s 30 two-bedroom units, and one car for the 15 one-bedroom units.
The developer was also granted relief from the town’s requirement that parking spaces be 9 by 20 feet.
The town’s definition of a parking space was originally 9 feet by 18 feet at the inception of this application back in 2006, Zoning Board Chairman David DeAngelis said.
“Since time has progressed, your application outgrew the ordinance, which is now nine by 20,” said DeAngelis.
Shekarchi and Sacchetti said parts of the property are environmentally contaminated, and that the 75 parking spaces were the best they can do while maintaining green space for residents.
“There were not great areas to add parking and have the green space around the building for quality of life of future residents,” Sacchetti said. “We don’t want people to be parking on the street … we don’t want a headache.”
Contamination on the site will be addressed as part of construction and paid for by Dakota Partners. The company will have to remove between one and two feet of existing soil and replace it with fill.
The cost of the environmental mitigation, according to Shekarchi, “is a moving target, but it’s going to be quite expensive … hundreds of thousands if not more.”
Parking relief aside, the project did not require any zoning relief concerning the conversion of the actual building into affordable housing. The property is owned by AF Homes LLC and under agreement with Dakota Partners, with Dakota planning to close on the property by early next year. This is Dakota’s first project in Rhode Island.
As an affordable housing project, units will be restricted to people making at or below a certain income, and/or rent-restricted. Rent is expected to be in the $800-$900 range for a one-bedroom, and $900-$1,000 for a two-bedroom unit, with heat and hot water included. The project will be required to meet HUD’s Section 8 Housing requirements.
A second-story bridge connecting 90 Industrial Circle to the building behind it will be taken down, while a shared loading dock will be removed and replaced with green space. The building is currently completely vacant, last used as commercial/light industrial space, and has fallen into disrepair.
Two individuals spoke out with concerns about the property’s current state at Tuesday’s meeting, including Bill McManus of Rockridge Road, who said, “the renderings of this plan look very nice, but the physical condition of the property has been a serious issue for many years. It’s a dumping ground for people to dispose unwanted trash, box springs and mattresses, TVs … it’s a health hazard.”
McManus asked that the board recommend that prior to any consideration of approval, the area be cleared of trash, mattresses and furniture.
“As a zoning board we can’t do that,” DeAngelis said, adding that he would ask someone from the town to look into the situation.
Jean Birchell of Smithfield Avenue, where properties back up to the mill, echoed the concerns of McManus.
“If you stop at the light at Walker Street you can see the mattresses – there’s 18 of them in all,” she said.
Zoning official Russell Hervieux said AF Homes LLC has been cited several times for the state of the property, “sometimes successful, sometimes not. The town is addressing this as we speak.”
The board voted to move the project forward, granting parking relief at 1.67 spaces per unit.
Courtesy of The Valley Breeze
By JACKIE ROMAN, Valley Breeze & Observer Staff Writer
SCITUATE – Dennis Charland, Scituate Zoning Board of Review vice chairman, opened last Tuesday’s public hearing on the Paramount Development Group’s requested variances and special use permit with the statement that the company’s plan for the Hope Mill “will have a dramatic impact on the future of Hope.”
The mill on Main Street was originally built in the 1800s and at one time fueled the local economy, but in the years following mass production and globalization, it was slowly boarded up and then vacated in 2006.
The mill sits in the heart of Scituate, both geographically and culturally.
Paramount is requesting a special use permit to have a 193-unit multi-family residential development on the 32-acre property.
That request comes along with consideration of several building components that do not align with Scituate’s zoning ordinance, including:
• Building heights exceeding the maximum 36 feet.
• Less than the required two parking spaces per dwelling unit.
• A sewage disposal system less than the required 150 feet from the edge of any water body.
At the Aug. 1 public hearing, residents expressed concerns about the variances – specifically if the height of the building would make it difficult for residents to get out in case of fire, if the lack of parking would crowd neighboring streets, and if the septic system would stand in case of flooding.
Addressing the issue of fire safety, Hope Jackson Fire Company Chief John Robinson said that development’s proposed sprinkler system and fire protection features “would exceed some of those code standards” and give “people plenty of time to get out of a building.”
Representatives from DiPrete Engineering, assisting with the project, said that the septic system was already approved by the Department of Environmental Management and will be inspected regularly.
The project’s architect also announced possibilities for additional parking, bringing the total to 273 spaces.
Also addressed was the public’s concern about what “affordable housing” actually means, in definition and implementation.
Approximately 40 percent of the total units would be reserved for affordable housing, a number that would bring Scituate closer to compliance with The Rhode Island Comprehensive Housing Production and Rehabilitation Act of 2004 and Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act. Those laws require that 10 percent of a municipality’s housing be “affordable.”
A total of 29 communities are covered by the act, with 10 exempt due to their current percentage of affordable housing inventory or rental housing.
Several communities have made adequate progress in reaching the 10 percent requirement, but Scituate is one of five communities that has made zero progress, according to the last available statistics from 2010.
Because of the misconceptions associated with the term “affordable housing,” Rhode Island Housing Executive Director Barbara Fields said she prefers to say “housing at all price points.”
According to Rhode Island General Law and Rhode Island Housing’s 2016 report, rental housing is considered affordable if rent, heat, and utilities constitute no more than 30 percent of the annual household income for a household making 80 percent or less of the area median income.
The U.S Census estimates that the median household income in Scituate is upwards of $90,000. So who makes 80 percent or less of $90,000?
Fields said it could be the local paralegal, firefighter, nurse, or teacher. Neighbors, friends, and family – not necessarily strangers.
“We all know someone who would qualify,” Fields said.
Scituate’s growing senior population could also take advantage of the Hope Mill housing, according to officials.
The Rhode Island Housing 2016 report states that low-income elderly households rose from 46 percent to 66 percent between 2000 and 2012. At the same time, the number of available affordable housing units in Rhode Island is shrinking.
Co-founder of the Paramount Development Group, Richard DeRosas, said his proposed residential development will not only increase Scituate’s affordability, but also save the historic Hope Mill.
“No one has stepped up to save this mill except myself,” DeRosas said.
Working in conjunction with the National Park Service and Hope Historical Society, DeRosas said he hopes to have the property placed on the National Register of Historic Places. While the Hope Village Historic District is listed on the national register, the Hope Mill itself is not.
“We’ll be very proud of that,” DeRosas said.
The zoning board will reconvene at the Scituate High School Auditorium on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. to issue their decision on Paramount’s applications.
The Governor’s proposed FY2019 budget (“the budget”) totals $9.2 billion, an increase of $5.2 million over the enacted FY2018 budget. This includes $3.8 billion in general revenue (increased by $25.0 million from enacted FY2018) and $3.1 billion in federal funds (a decrease of $52.3 million from enacted FY2018) with the balance from restricted receipts and other sources. The following provides some budget highlights.
The proposed Medicaid budget for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) totals $2.3 billion, including $906 million in general revenue and $1.4 billion in federal funds to provide health care and long term services to around 280,000 Rhode Islanders. The federal government’s recent extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) saves the state $29 million to provide coverage for certain children and pregnant women. The cost to cover the 70,000 adults who became eligible under Medicaid “expansion” is $472 million of which the state pays $31 million (around 6.7 percent of the cost compared to the regular state share of around 49 percent).
The budget includes approximately $150 million in cuts to the Medicaid program, including $68 million in general revenue. This includes cuts to providers: managed care organizations ($70M total, $24M in general revenue); hospitals ($30M total, $11M general revenue); and nursing facilities ($5M total, $3M general revenue). The budget assumes around $11 million in savings ($5.3M in general revenue) from eliminating retroactive coverage for seniors and people with disabilities. Under current law, medical bills incurred in the three months before application can be paid by Medicaid for these populations.
Co-payments: The most significant impact for Medicaid recipients is the proposal to require co-payments for services including the following: $8.00 for non-emergency use of the emergency room; $4.00 for brand name prescription drugs and $2.50 for generics; $3.00 per inpatient hospital stay; $3.00 for non-preventive doctor visits. The co-payments are capped at 5 percent of household income and apply to all adults over the age of 19 except for adults who are enrolled in Medicaid based on disability. This includes adults, parents, seniors, and pregnant women.
Almost all of the Rhode Islanders who will be required to pay toward their medications, doctor’s visits and other co-pays have income that is no higher than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and the majority have income that is below the poverty level. Over three-quarters (78 percent) of the adults without children (the expansion population) who receive Medicaid have income below the federal poverty level. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of parents have income below poverty, including several thousand parents who receive RI Works cash assistance whose income is almost 70 percent below the poverty level.
Generally, seniors who have Medicaid coverage have income near the poverty level and seniors who receive federal SSI cash benefits and Medicaid have income that is 20 percent below poverty. The new co-payments are estimated to “save” the state $3.2 million in general revenue and would generate savings for the federal government of $11.9 million.
Health care and long term care services for seniors and people with disabilities: The budget proposes to redesign health services delivery for around 11,000 seniors and people with disabilities who have both Medicare and Medicaid coverage and are enrolled in Neighborhood Health Plan’s (NHP) Unity Plan. NHP receives a capitated payment from the state to coordinate and pay for these members’ health care services as well as long term services in the community and nursing facilities. The redesign would end the managed care enrollment and capitated payments. NHP would be paid to coordinate member services and care management and the state would pay providers through the fee-for-service system. EOHHS would also implement a Community First Choice Option to increase federal reimbursement for certain long term care services. These changes are anticipated to save $15 million, including $10 million in general revenue. The budget does not appropriate the $6 million (half general revenue and half federal funds) available through the “Perry-Sullivan” funds (funds freed up by reducing nursing home placements) to expand home and community based services. Instead, most of the funds are proposed to be used to pay for the previously enacted wage increase for home care providers.
Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT): The state contracts with a vendor to provide Medicaid members with transportation services to doctors, pharmacies and other medical services. Consumers have had many problems with the current vendor. The budget proposes to restructure and rebid the contract for NEMT and save $9.2 million, including $3.9 million in general revenue.
HealthSource RI (HSRI)
The budget includes $8.1 million in funds for the state’s health insurance exchange through which almost 30,000 Rhode Islanders purchase health insurance and access tax credits to help them pay the monthly premium. HSRI is also the eligibility portal for children, families and adults who are applying for Medicaid. Funding includes $2.4 million in general revenue and $5.7 million in restricted receipts from a 3.5 percent health insurance premium assessment.
Senior Centers and Meals-On-Wheels
The budget doubles state resources for Senior Centers from $400,000 to $800,000 and maintains funding ($530,000) for Meals-on-Wheels. Adequate nutrition for seniors and opportunities to engage in community
activities are important “social determinants” that can impact seniors’ health and well-being.
Child Care and Early Learning
The budget includes $1.5 million in general revenue to increase rates paid to providers who serve infants and
toddlers enrolled in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) if the program meets quality standards. The
budget adds $1.1 million in additional general revenue to expand pre-K programs and level funds ($1.2M) the Head Start Program.
The budget also includes $200,000 for a pilot program to allow parents who are enrolled in post-secondary education to access CCAP subsidies. Under current law, parents are eligible for CCAP only if they are working or enrolled in a short-term training program at least 20 hours/week.
Education and Workforce for Adults
Funding for the adult education system, administered by the Rhode Island Department of Education, remains the same as current year. The system, which provides adults with foundational workforce skills, including English language instruction, literacy and numeracy is funded by federal sources (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grant ($1M) and the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act ($2.3M) ), general revenue of $2.3 million and $3.5 million from the Job Development Fund.
The budget maintains $300,000 in general revenue for the “Pay for Success” transitional employment program for formerly incarcerated individuals and appropriates $400,000 for a new initiative to help people in recovery from opioid addiction access supportive employment services.
The budget codifies the “Real Jobs Rhode Island” program into law within the Governor’s Workforce Board, establishing it as the state’s primary workforce development program. Changes to the law governing the Job
Development Fund would provide long-term funding for Real Jobs Rhode Island.
The budget includes second year funding for the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship, adding $3.6 million in general revenue for total funding of $6.4 million. Tuition and fees are covered for young adults who attend the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) within six months of graduating from high school.
There are no new general revenue funds in the budget for affordable rental housing. Approximately $10 million for development and preservation of affordable housing will be awarded in FY2018 from the General Obligation Bond approved by voters in 2016. A similar amount may be available in FY2019. The budget also transfers $11 million from Rhode Island Housing to the General Fund – $6 million to close the FY2018 budget deficit, and $5 million to balance the FY2019 budget request.
The budget increases the cigarette tax by an additional $.25/pack, to $4.50/pack (after increasing from $3.75/pack to $4.25/pack in last year’s budget), and expands taxes on other tobacco products, changes anticipated to generate an additional $6.2 million in revenues.
While the budget doesn’t include any “broad based” tax increases, the expansion of the sales and use tax to cover two services – Software as a Service (SaaS) and security services – is expected to generate $14.5 million. This move is an important step towards better aligning Rhode Island’s sales tax system with our economy, which has substantially shifted from the purchase of goods to the use of services, and from bricks and mortar establishments to on-line purchases.
The budget anticipates that restructuring the Department of Revenue’s Division of Taxation (and adding 22 staff) will enable the state to increase revenues collected by $13.5 million, netting $10 million after staffing and technical support costs.
The budget anticipates substantial new lottery revenue ($27.6M), most of which ($23.5M) is contingent on a favorable decision by the US Supreme Court on the legalization of sports betting. A decision is expected by
The budget increases several fees including insurance claims adjusters’ fees, mutual fund retailers’ fees, and duplicate license fees, totaling $10.6 million, a gain that is partially offset by reducing several licensing fees by a total of $300,000.
Expansion of Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program is expected to generate an additional $5.1 million in revenue.
The budget allocates $18.7 million for FY2019 in additional state aid towards the phase-out of the motor vehicle tax with total of $44.7 million in foregone revenue as a result of the phase out.
Rhode Island continues to rely heavily on economic development tax incentives to encourage employers to make investments in Rhode Island. The budget includes $37.3 million for the Executive Office of Commerce “to support new and existing initiatives…to spur economic development.”
Economic Development Tax Incentives
Refundable Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit
The budget proposes expanding the manufacturing investment tax credit with a $300,000 refundable tax credit to encourage investment in equipment, training, and business capital.
Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit
The budget adds $15 million ($3M more than FY2018) to the Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit Fund (providing gap financing for the development, construction, or rehabilitation of eligible commercial, industrial, residential, and mixed use properties). The budget also recommends expanding program eligibility and repealing the program’s December 31, 2018 sunset provision.
Historic Tax Credit Trust Fund
The budget includes $12.9 million (on top of revised request for $31.1M in FY2018) for debt servicing costs.
New Economic Development Initiatives
The Governor proposes creation of a new program, SupplyRI, allocating $475,000 to connect small suppliers with some of the state’s largest purchasers of supplies (i.e. universities, hospitals and other large employers) to shift spending from out-of-state to in-state suppliers.
Manufacturing Site Readiness Program
The manufacturing site readiness program would allocate $200,000 for the development of an inventory of “pad ready” industrial sites for potential use by large manufacturers or distribution centers.
Municipal Technical Assistance Grants
This initiative would allocate $200,000 to provide technical assistance to municipalities to expedite the processes involved in municipal zoning, planning, and permitting for local economic initiatives.
Courtesy of Economic Progress Institute
PAWTUCKET – WinnCompanies, a multi-family property developer and manager, and Omni Development Corporation, the largest minority not-for-profit housing developer in Rhode Island, last Tuesday formally kicked off $42 million in renovations to modernize Prospect Heights Apartments, a historic New Deal-era public housing community on Prospect Street.
Gov. Gina Raimondo, Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, Pawtucket Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Vadnais and Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing Barbara Fields were among the dignitaries who attended the groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the work, which will rehabilitate 292 apartments spread across 35 two-story buildings and also create 20 new units of housing at the 21-acre site.
“This redevelopment is creating a new future for the residents of this New Deal-era property,” said WinnDevelopment President and Managing Partner Larry Curtis.
“All Rhode Islanders deserve to live somewhere that’s safe and warm,” said Raimondo. “This redevelopment is a perfect example of what government and the private sector can achieve when we work together.”
Constructed in 1942, Prospect Heights qualified for federal historic tax credits after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in December 2016.
Vadnais, updating The Breeze on a previous story regarding the concerns of 92-year-old Dorothy Remiesiewicz, noted that Remiesiewicz appeared to have all of her issues answered during the groundbreaking event. She will live in a two-bedroom end unit and get to keep her ceiling fans, among other concessions.
“I hope we can keep her happy for a while,” said Vadnais.
A joint venture between WinnDevelopment and Omni Development acquired a ground lease for the Prospect Heights property from the Pawtucket Housing Authority in June 2017. The transaction was coordinated under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program, which allows public housing agencies to leverage their assets to raise necessary funds to do rehabilitation and capital improvements.
Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corp. provided tax-exempt bond financing for the construction and permanent loans, the Low Income Housing Tax Credits and separate bridge financing for the project. WNC served as the equity investor. Commerce Corp. provided tax credits from the state’s new Rebuild Rhode Island program. Additional funds were provided by the federal Home Loan Bank of Boston from the Affordable Housing Program, the Rhode Island Housing Trust Fund, and the R.I. Housing Resource Commission’s Building Homes Rhode Island Housing Bond Program. Housing Ministries of New England and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) provided predevelopment funds.
The city of Pawtucket supported the project through zoning and entitlement changes, as well as a tax stabilization agreement and Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds.
“This is a great day in our city that has been a long time in the making,” said Grebien.
“This is truly a significant event for residents of Prospect Heights,” said Vadnais. “Through this private-public partnership, we are preserving 292 units of affordable housing and producing an additional 20 affordable units within the City of Pawtucket. I applaud the efforts of our partners in working toward providing a quality product for the residents of historic Prospect Heights, and I applaud the residents for their patience during the transition in management and enduring the relocation process.”
Courtesy of The Valley Breeze
Pleased by the favorable reception the Planning Board gave the Cherry Hill Lane affordable housing development on May 9, the members of the Block Island Housing Board turned toward implementing that project and others at their May 15 meeting.
“We were thrilled with the Planning Board's support, and look forward to their decision,” Housing Board Chair Cindy Pappas said. The five-home subdivision off Cooneymus Road has been the target of neighbors' objections throughout the permitting process.
Once the Planning Board issues a decision — expected at its June meeting — the next pending issue will be preparing Requests for Proposals for construction, Pappas told the Housing Board. She added that Town Manager Ed Roberge has volunteered to help, drawing on his expertise in developing RFPs.
An infrastructure RFP comes first, and will include the access road, drainage and septic systems, wells, water lines and other underground utilities.
“We know the road standards,” Pappas continued, referring to engineering protocols for the right of way that will serve the new homes and provide a throughway to abutting properties. The septic system design is done and awaiting approval by the state. Member John Spier advised including the final landscaping in the infrastructure RFP, to ensure that the first site work will not have to be redone at the end. Landscape design has been one of the sticking points with the abutting property owners.
Whether the new homes will use modular or stick-built construction is also yet to be determined. Pappas said she will follow up with a modular home builder in Connecticut, and Spier said he will keep in contact with the project's architect, Frank Karpowicz.
Consulting on Merck project
The Housing Board is working with island property owner Josie Merck on the sale of two existing homes, converting them to affordable housing units in the process. Kim Gaffett represented Merck at the meeting to discuss agreements and covenants that will apply to those homes. The homes will be occupied by the current tenants.
“It's well in Joe [Priestley]'s hands,” Gaffett said, referring to Merck's attorney; “he has all the templates.” Gaffett said some “site-specific” conditions may be added, such as limiting mowing of open space and agreements to share maintenance costs of a well and an access road.
Other provisions could establish precedents for future affordable housing projects on the island: Requiring a homeowners' association be created — even for a two-unit development — with a member of the Housing Board serving as an “arbitrator” between the owners, in Spier's phrase; and allowing the owners' children to inherit the property, with the original covenants and conditions continuing to apply.
“We will say the kids can inherit unless told otherwise,” said Gaffett.
Pappas replied that while the Housing Board hasn't taken a position on inheritance policies, “The point is to keep the house in the affordable pool in perpetuity.”
“That's what we're striving for,” Gaffett said. “We're still optimistic that the details will all work out.” Merck's proposal will go before the Planning Board in June.
The Housing Board commented briefly on two other housing matters. Spier said of a parcel recently acquired from the Ball-O'Brien families, “We'll decide what we want to do, and then find out what we can do.”
Pappas replied that she was “still hoping for a mix of homeownership and rental housing” on that parcel, which is adjacent to the E. Searles Ball rental apartments on West Side Road. Spier noted that “homeownership tends to produce a better neighborhood than just rental.”
Pappas also reported that Town Manager Roberge had recently convened a meeting to talk about housing. “Obviously, the town is very interested in housing issues,” she said, noting the vote at the Financial Town Meeting to issue bonds to construct housing for town employees on the Thomas property across High Street from the Block Island School.
However, the Thomas property is not an affordable housing project as described now, she said.
Courtesy of The Block Island Times
Posted:Mar 5, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Updated:Mar 5, 2018 at 8:29 PM
The R.I. Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday from one developer who says his efforts to redevelop the historic Scituate site date to 2002. In the other case, Paramount Development Group calls a zoning board denial of its $52M plan “a transparent attempt to prevent development and affordable housing in the town of Scituate,” a charge the town denies.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Town of Scituate is involved in legal disputes with two would-be developers of the historic Hope Mill, and one case will go before the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.
In the other case, Paramount Development Group of Massachusetts is appealing a Scituate Zoning Board denial of its $52-million plan to build 193 residential units on the 38-acre site, at 1 Main Street in the Hope Village Historic District. Paramount’s Superior Court complaint calls the zoning board denial “a transparent attempt to prevent the development and affordable housing in the town of Scituate,” a charge the town has denied.
Paramount’s plan called for 118 of the 193 units to be affordable. Less than 1 percent of Scituate’s housing stock is affordable, according to the 2017 Factbook by HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University. Only Little Compton is further away from meeting the state mandate of having at least 10 percent of the housing stock deemed affordable.
In the first case, Vincent R. Coccoli Sr., has appealed a 2016 decision by Superior Court Justice Michael A. Silverstein rejecting his $22-million lawsuit against the town. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on March 6.
Coccoli had alleged that the town derailed his efforts to redevelop the property, which also included residential development, but Silverstein instead found that Coccoli was unable to meet the terms to buy the property after it went into receivership, despite making several attempts to do so.
Paramount Development Group has an agreement to buy the riverfront site with court-appointed receiver Peter Furness. Furness said the purchase and sale agreement has been extended several times as Paramount has gone through local and state approvals. Furness said the approvals have cost Paramount approximately $800,000 to date.
Scituate’s Planning Board voted unanimously on March 21, 2017, to grant conditional master plan approval of Paramount’s plan. The zoning board’s denial followed public hearings at which local residents expressed strong opposition to the plan.
Paramount’s complaint, filed in December, charges that the November zoning decision is unlawful and illegal, “arbitrary and capricious and constitutes a clear abuse of discretion.”
But Dennis Charland, vice chairman of the zoning board, said there were “issues” with the proposal “all the way through this entire review process.” The density of the proposed development, the expected impact on traffic in the rural location, the impact on local real estate values, and the added strain on police and fire services, were some of the problems, he said.
“Bottom line, we came away with the feeling that the developers were asking for more relief [from the town’s zoning ordinances] than was absolutely necessary,” Charland said.
“This project would have been very similar to taking a development that was appropriate for the City of Providence or one of the major cities in the state and going and putting it in the rural community,” he added.
Paramount’s website says its project would preserve “an important existing historical landmark for Scituate,” and added that the town’s own Comprehensive Plan “expresses the Town’s desire for reinvestment in vacant mill properties and highlights affordable housing needs.”
The zoning decision stated that “although affordable housing is proposed as part of the project, the negative externalities associated with the project on the village and Town’s resources outweigh that offering.”
The Hope Mill sits on an island of 38 acres, surrounded by the Pawtuxet River on one side and a tailrace, a manmade channel for its hydro plant, on the other. Most of the property is in Scituate but 7½ acres are in Coventry.
Cotton-goods manufacturing began in Scituate in 1806 at the Hope Cotton Factory Co. mill, built along the Pawtuxet River, making Hope the first mill village in Scituate, according to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. Another Hope mill was built around 1825, but this mill burned in 1844 and was replaced by the present four-story stone building.
Coccoli owned the mill site with his former partnership, Hope Mill Village Associates, before the property went into receivership, and he has said his efforts to redevelop the site date back to 2002. His legal issues have also included an appeal of a separate contempt ruling from Silverstein that said he had unlawfully interfered with Furness’ attempts to sell the former mill to another party.
Coccoli also lost a potential $5 million in state historic tax credits, because a deposit required to secure the credits was never paid to the state.
On Twitter @ChristineMDunn
Courtesy of Providence Journal
LINCOLN – In the words of landowner John Cullen, “the odyssey has ended.”
On April 23, the Rhode Island State Housing Board of Appeals vacated the town of Lincoln’s denial of Cullen’s long-awaited Whipple-Cullen Farm Affordable Senior Development.
The Lincoln Planning Board previously denied the conceptual plan in June 2016, with its six members divided on whether the number of units was too many.
While the original proposal included 200 units, the number was brought down to 158, according to Town Planner Al Ranaldi.
Cullen has been fighting to create a conservation area and age 55-plus living community for Lincoln’s seniors for 25 years. Only two families, the Whipples and the Cullens, have owned the land through history, with the latter owning the property for the last 150 years.
The proposed one-story condominiums would be built on the 79-acre lot on Old River Road across from Lincoln’s Town Hall and Police Department. The lot is currently undeveloped farmland, including sloping, open fields and wooded areas. About half of the acreage will be left as undeveloped conservation land.
Cullen said he feels a kinship with Odysseus following the SHAB’s decision, which he saw was wrong and hurtful to his family. He said they’ve “been trying for years to do something good and preserve more than half of the land rather than do a cookie-cutter expansion.”
“The many people who want this project to move forward are elated. We’ve suffered a lot, but I think the years we’ve put into this will be worth it,” he said. “This is going to be such a wonderful addition to the Lincoln community.”
He said it will be the “pride of Lincoln and the Blackstone Valley.”
Cullen, who grew up making memories on the land, said he used to sell off lots to those who loved the land and opposed its development. Many neighbors have enjoyed his family’s farm as a back yard.
“Then, they turn around and oppose it when I want to open it up to seniors,” he said. “I could have lined Old River Road with houses years ago, but that would have injured mine and my family’s soul.”
Cullen said those who oppose his plan for the property have “run the day for almost 25 years … but we stood the course and it looks like we’ve prevailed for the benefit of my beloved town of Lincoln.”
He added, “We didn’t want a McMansion development. That would have ruined the views, scenic and historic value – the soul of the land.”
Cullen began the appeal process before the SHAB in April of last year, nearly two years after the Planning Board voted 3-3, effectively denying the project. SHAB members said the case was unique because the Planning Board voted down the proposal despite generally favorable opinions of the development from town officials such as Ranaldi and Town Administrator Joseph Almond.
“When this was in front of the Planning Board my phone rang every week about people inquiring about the units in a positive way,” Ranaldi said, noting that Lincoln has a demand for affordable senior housing as people age out of their large, two-story homes.
The community will not drain revenue from the town’s public services such as plowing and garbage pickup, Ranaldi said. He added that the likelihood of school-aged children in the development is very low.
If no one appeals the Housing Board’s decision, the development of the community can proceed to the preliminary plan review phase, which includes engineering roads, utilities and stormwater runoff and matters of regulatory compliance.
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One Empire Plaza
Providence, RI 02903
A project of HousingWorks RI