A condominium development proposed for one of Barrington’s last rural areas appears doomed.
The Planning Board voted unanimously in a straw poll Tuesday night during a continued public hearing to deny a plan to build “The Residences at the Preserve” off of George Street in the Nockum Hill area.
A motion to formally deny the proposal is to be voted on during the continued public hearing at the board’s next meeting.
The proposal by North End Holdings of Wakefield, RI, operated by Ron Chofay, would build 24 or 27 condos primarily in a former horse paddock that abuts farmland and lies just east of the Doug Rayner Wildlife Refuge. Each would include up to a half dozen affordable housing units.
As it was slammed about a month ago when the public hearing began, the development was again rapped by nearby property owners. They all testified that the development simply was not a good fit for the rural area surrounded by single-family homes, land farmed by Four Town Farm, and the nearby refuge that is home to the endangered diamondback terrapins.
Charlotte Sornberger, who has spent a lifetime protecting the terrapins, said they lay their eggs throughout that area in the early summer each year after coming out of hibernation in Hundred Acre Cove.
Other property owners said the area has a history of shallow wells contaminated by failed septic systems and a layer of clay that allows that runoff to contaminate water supplies.
They also said the cluster of condos simply was not a good fit for Nockum Hill.
Planning Board members voted one by one to deny the housing proposal for similar reasons – its lack of fit as submitted to them.
Larry Trim, for instance, said the plan “is not in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan for that area."
Seth Millman said: “It doesn’t fit the neighborhood” or the Comprehensive Plan.
“There are far too many questions,” said Ann Strong. “I can’t support it as submitted.”
Vice chairman Edgar Adams said: “I’m not in favor as it stands.”
Attorney William Landry, professional engineer Scott Moorehead, and architect John O’Hearne attempted to try to sway the board in favor of the development.
Landry used the tact that the project would help Barrington achieve its affordable housing goal, which he claimed has been moving in the slow lane with only about 115 units built over the past six years.
O’Hearne presented drawings of one of the buildings in the four-building development to show how the homes would fit into the neighborhood.
Unless the Planning Board has a total change of heart before its next meeting, there will be no residences at the wildlife preserve.