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Affordable Housing Planned for Nursery

East Bay Community Development Corporation to construct an affordable-housing complex at the Sowams Nursery site that is similar to Sweetbriar in West Barrington.

Another affordable-housing complex similar to Sweetbriar in West Barrington is being planned for a site along the Barrington River.

The complex will be built at the Sowams Nursery site off of Sowams Road by the same nonprofit that built Sweetbriar -- East Bay Community Development Corporation

Construction is expected to start next year. The timetable calls for completion by 2015.

“We have a purchase-and-sale agreement for the site,” said Kathy Bazinet, exective director of the East Bay Community Development Corporation. “It will be very much like the Sweetbriar development.”

The nonprofit corporation is looking for funding and will apply for low-income tax credits from Rhode Island Housing this year. Construction will start soon after the credits are awarded next year.

“We’re at the beginning of the project,” Bazinet said.

Approximately 56 units will be built on the 9-acre nursery site, which straddles Sowams Road, she said.

“We have the same architect, who has already put together some designs,” she said. “Aesthetically, it will be very much like Sweetbriar.”

Don Powers of Barrington is the architect. He plans to incorporate plenty of green space, especially near the waterfront on the river, said Bazinet.

Unlike the Sweetbriar development, which encountered some resistance in the community, she said, “I expect to move along seamlessly. A lot more people understand affordable housing now. I think we have proven the kind of neighbors we are.”

Bazinet said the quality of Sweetbriar's construction also has won over a lot of converts.

“I have every reason to believe the new development will be of similar quality,” she said.

The owners of the nursery land, Joseph and Maria Silveria, approached the corporation and indicated their interest in selling the site for affordable housing, Bazinet said. The P&S agreement has a $1.2 million price tag.

There is a waiting list of tenants for Sweetbriar, Bazinet said.

“We’re in a good position,” she said.

As it does at Sweetbriar, Bazinet said, the new affordable housing complex will have a part-time property manager and a full-time maintenance chief.

Linda April 12, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Affordable housing development being built on waterfront property???? What does that do to the value of all the other waterfront properties in the area? Is this really the best use of 9 acres of land? Wouldn't it be more beneficial to the town to have a residential development built there where all the homeowners pay hefty taxes? What about a potential location for the new middle school that is so desperately needed? Shouldn't all the taxpaying residents be able to decide if we as a town can afford more affordable housing developments? Why does the East Bay Community Development Corporation get to decide what we can or can't have for affordable housing? Why are we not planning an affordable housing community for our elderly. Only seems right to provide our older residents with affordable housing so they can stay in the town that they have supported. The Easy Bay CDC is all about making money at the expense of the residents of Barrington. And to make matters worse, the they have applied for a grant to help cover costs of the development????!!!! We as a town struggle with our budget every year but we are able to give a greedy corporation money to make the value of our property as well as the quality of our schools and town services diminish. We need to come together as residents of this town and protect our future!
Gary Morse April 12, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Linda, You might want to ask the town council to explore a better direction that the property be developed to its full potential as opposed to absurd low income waterfront villa's (see US Supreme Court case Kelo vs City of New London). All they appear to need to do is seek a willing developer (no problem if they at least look, this is after all waterfront). The town solicitor can guide the council on what appears to be an easy decision. Perhaps you might ask that this be an agenda item at the next town council meeting during the comment period (at the beginning of each council meeting). As you point out, this is insane use of a valued and limited town resource.
Bristol County Anonymous April 12, 2012 at 10:36 PM
RI has a bad track record of pouring tax money into unsupervised non-profits. Mrs. Bazinett’s received $117,200 from East Bay Development Corp. per the 2010 Form 990. http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990_pdf_archive/050/050445955/050445955_201106_990.pdf Can’t tell if she also received compensation from the other affiliates listed. And the RI Secretary of State’s website shows that she is a Director of a recently created new entity: “Center For Economic Development”: http://ucc.state.ri.us/CorpSearch/CorpSearchSummary.asp?ReadFromDB=True&UpdateAllowed=&FEIN=000727383 Barrington / Bristol Solicitor Michael Ursillo is listed as the “incorporator”. Conflict of interest? Seems a strange concept that RI taxpayers have funded what has become a big real estate empire, getting bigger, that supports a large compensation package for someone. What is the benefit to the public? There is now lots of “affordable housing” – certainly we don’t need more. Why are our tax dollars flowing into this entity? Where is the monitoring? Is an audit needed?
Ignorance is not bliss April 13, 2012 at 03:40 PM
East Bay Development is presenting their preliminary plans to the Barrington Housing Board on Tuesday April 17th at 7:00 at the Barrington Library. I urge everyone to come see what they are planning. This impacts the entire town not just the Sowams Road area. The next low income housing project could be built near you! Barrington needs to take control of the affordable housing initiatives we can't let an outside corporation destroy our real estate values, town services and quality of life.
Gary Morse April 13, 2012 at 04:00 PM
In Kelo vs City of New London (2005), the majority of the Supreme Court held that a municipality can act on any eminent domain taking on behalf of a private developer so long as the plan benefited the community finances, even if the private developer also gained financially at the same time. In short, the town council appears to be free to search for a private developer willing to develop this property to enhance the tax base. The question is, will they do that?
Linda April 14, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Gary, we need your input. Are you free to come to the meeting Tuesday night?
Jen April 14, 2012 at 02:45 PM
How on earth do they plan to fill 50+ affordable housing units when Walker Farm is sitting almost empty? When this development brings all our property values down will the town reasses our property taxes? I don't think so.
Gary Morse April 14, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Linda, As a legal matter, I'm not an attorney and anything that is done has to be an initiative on behalf of ones own interest in the matter. RI hasn't done much to pass any state level legislation since Kelo other than in 2008, there was S2728 that spelled out eminent domain for private economic development in RI. (e.g property owners have to receive at least 150% of fair market value in a taking in RI).
Sylvia G April 14, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Great for Barrington! The snobbery is endless. Love it! Hope they all go to Nayatt School too : ) Spread some kindness!
John Baron April 14, 2012 at 09:18 PM
For me, the constant underage drinking parties are enough to not want to continue to raise my children in Barrington. I grew up here, and now as an adult with children of my own sadly nothing has changed. It's as though being drunk is a sport and Barrington has won the division, actually the state title for most likely to enable. The poor actions of parents have slowly destroyed real estate values. Bring in more affordable housing along with parents with values. Just ask real estate agents from other towns what their clients are saying about Barrington. Looking forward to the improvement.
John Baron April 14, 2012 at 09:23 PM
How dare you give "those people" waterfront property. Welcome to Barrington...What right does a landowner have to develop their property as they wish...
John Baron April 14, 2012 at 09:26 PM
they gonna' fill it wit' all them poor peoples : ) Really? Do you not realize their are very normal hard working average people looking for affordable housing? Really? Are you so cut off from reality?
Bristol County Anonymous April 14, 2012 at 09:29 PM
This is part of June Speakmans’s legacy. June seemed to be always caught-up with some behind-the-scenes petty nonsense, crony networking, and silly goals (e.g. the Democrat Club rejection, the big windless wind turbine, the expensive ugly beach house, hen houses, etc.) and didn’t proactively deal with the real issues. Thus, “issues” that could have been addressed, became big problems. June glazed over when she was provided with information showing deficiencies in the affordable housing plan that should have been proactively addressed. And she glazed over many other times when she should have been proactively listening, and trying to address issues before they turned into problems. June’s poor record on the “Affordable housing” problem, the tax reval fiasco, the Zion property fiasco, the open government violations / fines, deteriorated roads, and the BCWA, all involved issues that could have been proactively addressed. June should have thoroughly reviewed the affordable housing plans, and insisted that errors and flaws be addressed, and she should have insisted on viable strategies designed to give the Town control over the process. Especially with the East Bay Devel. Corp. having targeted Barrington. But she did not. And now we are paying the price.
Gary Morse April 14, 2012 at 11:49 PM
John, Sylvia, This is not about snobbery, but about taxes raising at a rate that current residents cannot keep up with. The "move out if you can't keep up" attitude in this town has to be changed.
mohamed j. freij April 15, 2012 at 12:40 AM
I have a plan for the town council that will help every resident in Barrington rich and poor; Offer the the land owner $1.5 million and buy the land, this land is much more valuable than the Zion bible land, it is water front! - buy the land for $1.5 million -change the zone to R10 which would allow the subdivision of the land into at least thirty 10,000 s.f. Lots and sell each lot for at least $100,000 -that would generate instant $3 million -subtract engineering and development cost, about $400,000 -thirty houses are built and if the tax bill is $10,000 a year for each house the town will make $300,000 additional tax money - the town will make over a million on this deal and residents of Barrington will all win As a professional engineer and land surveyor that does this for a living I will be willing to provide a free sketch to the town council showing them how they can create at least 30 lots out of this land. The town council must act and must focus on issues of substance that benefit the tax payers. Raising taxes every year is not an option any more, there is something called living within your means and cutting spending. Good luck to us all and I respectfully ask the town council to hear this issue in the next meeting. Write to your town council or call... If we all get involved we will make a difference. -
Manifold Witness April 15, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Thank you, for your good ideas and kind offer, mohamed. We hope it's not too late. $10,000 a year per unit in taxes would come a lot closer to covering the municipal costs than does the $667 or so per year per unit that it is assumed another Sweetbriar-type development would generate. The town also needs to consider political action to get the statute changed given that there is so much affordable housing already in existence all over the state now - & maybe that's why newly built units in Barrington are vacant. And we can't afford any more. And we certainly don't need a Bristol "affordable" housing development corp (with ties to Ursillo) to continue to target Barrington.
Gary Morse April 15, 2012 at 03:25 AM
John, There is currently a glut across the state of affordable housing, even in places like Barrington. Making more of what is already in surplus is the kind of thinking that is keeping RI at the bottom of virtually every "worst of" list in the US, draining the wealth and jobs out of this state. You may have an interest in reading one of the latest in a series of "worst of" reports: http://blogs.wpri.com/2012/04/13/providence-one-of-only-two-big-us-metro-areas-still-losing-jobs/
Bristol County Anonymous April 16, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Is targeting Barrington a case of “not in my backyard”… by The East Bay Development Corp itself? The East Bay Development Corp. officers and directors are all from Bristol, (except one from Warren). See pg 28: http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990_pdf_archive/050/050445955/050445955_201106_990.pdf
Linda April 16, 2012 at 06:27 PM
East Bay Development is presenting their preliminary plans to the Barrington Housing Board on Tuesday April 17th at 7:00 at the Barrington Library. I urge everyone to come see what they are planning. This impacts the entire town of Barrington. The taxpaying citizens will have to absorb the tax increase needed to accommodate more affordable housing. Barrington taxpayers can not afford any more affordable housing at this time! We need answers regarding the negative impact on our taxes, schools and property values.
Gary Morse April 16, 2012 at 06:51 PM
The State of RI housing plan states as objectives: In this coming second program year of the 2010-2015 plan, Rhode Island will continue to evaluate and address the overarching priorities identified in the Consolidated Plan. These include: • increasing production of affordable rental homes in key geographic locations for priority populations; • focusing on the need for affordable homes linked to supportive services; • addressing the negative impacts of the foreclosure crisis, particularly for minority and low and moderate-income households and hard hit urban communities; • ensuring that Rhode Island’s aging housing stock is safe, healthy and energy efficient; • reducing barriers to the development of affordable homes; and • preserving our natural resources by working together to prioritize development in areas close to jobs, transportation, infrastructure and services. How are any of these objectives addressed in the Sowams waterfront project? That is a big problem that this taxpayer subsidized project is: chewing up an undeveloped natural resource, being built far from public transportation, not aligned to where the jobs are, not aligned to where supportive public services actually exist, not addressing any foreclosure issues, not helping to upgrade any aging infrastructure. Could someone please explain how this is common sense use of limited taxpayer money.
Van Ness April 16, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Great summary Gary! Our neighborhoods plan to be at the Housing Board of Trustees Meeting tomorrow night. I hope to see you there too! I encourage everyone in Barrington to attend tomorrow night's meeting, Tuesday April 17th 7:00 at the Barrington Town LIbrary - 2nd floor.
Linda April 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The meeting tonight has been moved to the town hall counsel chambers, second floor. Please pass the word on to everyone. Hope to see you there!
Gary Morse April 17, 2012 at 05:46 PM
A question for the Planning Board: How is conversion of open space agricultural land into high density housing consistent with either town or state objectives? Ans: It's not! A review of one of the numerous Silveria's land holdings on Sowams being plat/lot 28-072 shows a taxable amount of $120,411. http://www.appraisalresource.com/PropertyDetailTemp.aspx?town=Barrington&id=4942 But the actual assessment in Mr. Minardi's records is $401,369 for the same plat / lot. Why the difference? Because the Silveria's are granted a qualifying open space / agricultural discount from the $401K assessment in the amount of $280,958 for this lot. They get similar discounts under "open space" for other parcels they own. In short, the land being converted is currently listed as agricultural land. Is this common sense Planning Board policy to be replicating California-esque high density housing policies here in Barrington using taxpayer subsidies?? Where has common sense planning gone???
Frances Dallesandro April 19, 2012 at 10:14 PM
To bad no one was allowed to voice an opinion at that meeting.
Van Ness April 21, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Barrington residents: We are meeting to discuss issues with the East Bay Development Corporation's plans to develop low income housing at Sowams Nursery. The meeting is this Monday April 23rd at 7:00 at the Barrington Volunteer Fire Dept.on Sowams Road.

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