UPDATE: Don't Blame Planning Board

Former Planning Board chair Mike Minardi provides additional information on the rejection of a subdivision at the Sowams Nursery property, now targeted for affordable housing.

Former Barrington Planning Board chairman Mike Minardi, now the town's Tax Assessor, provided the following update on a previous Patch story on the board’s rejection of a plan for a subdivision for Sowams Nursery owner Joseph Silveira seven years ago.

The board’s rejection is seen now as possibily serving as a catalyst for the development of affordable housing on the property, according to a Barrington Times story.

“The proposed development was for ten (10) lots, not seven (7),” said Minardi in an email. “And the Planning Board vote was 8-0 not 7-0.”

“In addition to the road being excessively curvy," he said, "as I recall the applicants were seeking a number of waivers for such items as:

  • creating a thru-lot to another road (not allowed under Barrington's Land Development and Subdivision Review Regulations),
  • lot depth to width ratios in excess of 2.5 to 1 (not allowed under Barrington's Land Development and Subdivision Review Regulations),
  • no interior angles of a lot shall be less than forty-five (45) degrees or greater than two-hundred (200) degrees (not allowed under Barrington's Land Development and Subdivision Review Regulations)
  • the creation of a land-locked lot (not allowed under Barrington's Land Development and Subdivision Review Regulations), although that probably would have been deeded to the Barrington Land Trust."

Minardi said previously that Silveira never appealed the decision.

He said the Planning Board at that time should not be blamed for the construction of affordable housing on that site. It ruled on a plan for the property that simply could not be approved.

Silveira has since signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with the East Bay Community Development Corporation for a proposed 56-unit affordable housing complex described as similar to Sweetbriar in the Bay Spring neighborhood of Barrington.

Scott Clark May 23, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I'm not having any luck finding a record of the meeting where this was discussed. But watching the Housing Board ask EBCDC to go back and consider some things, the sequence is very believable: Mr Silveira spends time and money to make a proposal, Board says "not as is, go make some changes", Mr Silveira decides not to spend more money tuning the proposal and finds a faster sale. But to your point, this is all just he-said/he-said reporting. The difference between EBCDC and Mr Silveira is that the former is in the business of creating LMIH developments and therefore already has planned to spend money and time on every type of proposal, argument, plan, re-plan, and every other study they're asked to do. Meanwhile, Mr Silveira was just trying to sell some land.
Manifold Witness May 23, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Challenging the Supreme Court decision is not useful. Statutes need to change. Especially since the underlying "Wheras-es" and "Wherefores" are not the same as they were way back when. See issues in the Sweetbriar case (link, below)- “This Court will not endorse an interpretation of § 45-53-3(2) that would defeat the underlying legislative purpose of the act expressed in its provisions and acknowledged in our case law.” (p. 24,EAST BAY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORP v. The ZONING BOARD OF REVIEW OF the TOWN OF BARRINGTON, No. 2004-330-Appeal. (2004-19), June 30, 2006) Also, see what the court says about the curvy oval road at Sweetbriar - “We note, for example, that the zoning board's original findings included a finding that ‘[t]he proposed road would be a race track shaped oval * * * which is not safe for a family residential neighborhood.’   On remand, the zoning board may wish to review this aspect of the design in an effort to abate any such safety hazards.” (page 38). Even so, is that actual road a tight, curvy oval there now or not? Think about it. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:_KtmcHCGxhIJ:www.courts.ri.gov/Courts/SupremeCourt/OpinionsOrders/pdf-files/04-330.pdf+east+bay+community+development+corp+v.+the+zoning&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESg9hagRAg0bEm_AlbnV_P76Xde5G20bnnejLDxjvR2e0jnQ4aXVFu3pguN1FgLwT81Kp7FO4CkjzuaQMFR8NY6QE2J7rRdpak0zJybk7tr1wjw-Hl2JkEIi-WloN99JywI0vQuh&sig=AHIEtbQwW3SGPhOmZdIp1ARyEh_wIg8KcA
Scott Clark May 24, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Sorry, I meant challenge the mandate itself, not try and overturn the decision on Sweetbriar. People already live there :) Courts.ri.gov was down, so I pulled the bookmark I had for the last link you provided (ah, and thanks for the google cache!) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ri-supreme-court/1344948.html All the points the Housing Board mentioned in the last two meetings are in the Supreme Court decision upholding the Appeals Court: - The town didn't meet 10% - The town didn't have a Comp Plan to meet it (from there came the plan and the Housing Board itself) - The LMIH application was not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan they had at the time. - The Zoning Board rejection was inconsistent with the LMIH standard Another point: until a town meets 10%, the State Housing Appeals Board is required to scrutinize it more closely (basically have a bias towards development) any Zoning Board appeals if the town hasn't yet met 10%. So from here is the stated twin goals of: 1) Show good faith on getting to 10% 2) Doing it the least controversial way possible. That includes *balancing* the resident and developer needs. But both of those are predicated on the constitutionality of the LMIH standard itself, a component of which (shared tax burden) did come up at the Housing Board meeting, by a Mr Morse. THAT is what I think could possibly be challenged. Of course, the only thing I know about law is how to spell "law" :)
Scott Clark May 24, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Oh and I should say that through all this, I'm not really siding with either side. I'm just trying to piece together the ten years of decisions that went into the Sowams project. Usually these things are not the result of some nefarious shadow broker working behind the scenes. Rather, it's usually more mundane that that, along the lines of a bunch of small decisions made over a long period of time by one side being way more organized in what they want than the other side is in preventing them from getting it :)
Manifold Witness May 24, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Right, the issues Gary raised would support challenges to the statutes and to the substantial tax abatements.


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