As anticipated, the Hampden Meadows citizens group that opposes the Sowams Nursery affordable housing development has taken its fight to Superior Court.
CODDER 02806, specifically Deborah Francis, Frances Dellasandro and Timothy Dellasandro, all of Orchard Avenue, filed on Sept. 3 a complaint with the Superior Court against the Barrington Planning Board and the developer, East Bay Community Development Corporation (EBDCD) of Bristol.
The complaint was filed by Warwick attorney William Harsch on behalf of the defendants, and asks that the court stay all proceedings and overturn the planning board’s approval of the master plan for "Palmer Pointe."
The town must respond to the complaint by next Monday, Sept. 23.
“There are numerous problems as we see it,” said Harsch, “especially neighborhood compatibility.”
“There are a whole collection of things wrong with this,” said Bill Lemoult, spokesman for CODDER 02806 (Committee Opposed to Detrimental Development and for Environmental Responsibility). “You can see our objectives in a flyer we are distributing all over town.”
The flyer also asks Barrington residents to join in the legal fight by contributing to a fund with a goal of $25,000, he said. It is attached as a PDF to this story.
The legal complaint lists a variety of ground for appeal, including:
- The master plan’s inconsistency with the RI Low and Moderate Income Housing Act and Barrington’s own ordinances on affordable housing;
- The plan’s inconsistency with local needs identified in the comprehensive plan;
- The plan’s inconsistency with Barrington’s affordable housing plan;
- The plan’s lack of concern for the environment and health and safety of residents in that area;
- The plan not being in the best interest of the community, which should outweigh the state and local need for low and moderate income housing.
Harsch said the inaccessibility of the project is a major concern.
“They are sticking this out on Sowams Road, which is narrow with no sidewalks and has no public transportation,” he said. "A very dangerous road to walk on."
Harsch said the master plan also was approved before a soil study has been completed to determine if the ground is contaminated from chemicals after being used as a commercial nursery for decades.
“There could be significant contamination,” he said. "No one knows."
Harsch said the planning board also is making decisions usually reserved for the Town Council or the Zoning Board of Review and with standards imposed by the state for affordable housing.
The master plan for Palmer Pointe calls for 42 rental units on 5.6 acres of buildable land – or about 8 units per acre in what is R25 zone. EBCDC built and operates the Sweetbriar affordable housing development in West Barrington.