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Nockum Hill Condos Go Quietly

The Barrington Planning Board formally denies 'The Residences at the Preserve' condominium development proposed for the town's only remaining rural area near the wildlife refuge.

The condominium development proposed for rural Nockum Hill in Barrington died quietly Tuesday night, Aug. 7, as expected.

An attorney in the William Landry law firm was the only representative for the developer, North End Holdings of Wakefield, RI, at the meeting. Several residents from Nockum Hill, all of whom opposed the development during the public hearing, were on hand. Only the attorney addressed the board -- and just to submit several letters.

The Planning Board voted 6-0 to deny “The Residences at the Preserve” after adjourning the public hearing that was continued from last month’s meeting.

The denial echoed a straw vote at the July meeting that indicated the proposed development was dead in the water.

The development would have included 24 condos primarily in a former horse paddock that abuts farmland and lies just east of the Doug Rayner Wildlife Refuge. Up to a half dozen of the condos would have been affordable housing units.

 A 12-page draft motion prepared by Town Planner Phil Hervey that will become the official denial states:

“Denial is based on the Planning Board’s determination that the proposal’s density, design and location conflict with multiple goals, policies and strategies of the Affordable Housing Plan and the Comprehensive Community Plan, and raise concerns about its potential impact on the environment and health and safety.”

The decision by the board “is based upon the following legal conclusions, each supported by findings of fact.”

  1. The Town has an approved affordable housing plan, is meeting housing needs through its adoption of the implementation program of the approved affordable housing plan and has made significant effort to accomplishing the purposes and expectations of the approved affordable housing plan.
  2. The proposal, certified as complete on March 26, 2012, is inconsistent with the Town’s affordable housing plan, as described below.
  3. The proposal is not in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan, specifically the Future Land Use Map.
  4. The Town has plans to meet the goal of ten percent (10%) of the year‐round units being low and moderate‐income housing in accordance with the approved Affordable Housing Plan, as contained within the Housing & Neighborhoods element of the Comprehensive Community Plan.           
  5. Concerns for the environment and the health and safety of current residents have not been adequately addressed. The applicant, as stated in a letter from attorney William Landry dated July 3, 2012, has declined to provide the Town an engineering review fee at the master plan stage, which was requested by the Planning Board at the May 2012 meeting. The applicant’s engineer, Scott Moorehead of S.F.M. Engineering, has stated the proposal would have no negative environmental effects. However, peer review by a third‐party engineer would have enabled the Town to more thoroughly evaluate the plans and the issues cited below, as well as potentially identify other issues not listed.

 You can read the complete draft motion above as a PDF.

Ignorance is not bliss August 08, 2012 at 01:24 PM
"Affordable housing shall include all types of year-round housing, including, but not limited to, housing accepting rental vouchers and/or tenant-based certificates under Section 8." So does this mean that any landlord in town accepting Section 8 can have their rental unit counted towards the affordable housing number? If so, why hasn't the town conveyed this to rental property owners?
Gary Morse August 08, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Ans - In order to be considered for a tax break voted on by the town council, the property must have a deed restriction of no less than 30 years.
Ignorance is not bliss August 08, 2012 at 01:39 PM
What if the property owner isn't looking for a tax break but accepts Section 8 tenants. Would that rental property count as an affordable house?
Gary Morse August 08, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Good question! It may count as an affordable home, but may not qualify for a tax break. Currently, any residence (yes, any residence) that is below $400,000 in assessed value in Barrington, with or without a deed restriction, is compliant with the "Comprehensive Housing Production and Rehabilitation Act of 2004" and counts as affordable home. But the Planning Board is ignoring this Act! In order to have a "Comprehensive Community Plan", it is statutorily required to recognize two "Acts", both written in 2004. (§ 45-22.2-6 Required content of a comprehensive plan - "The comprehensive plan ..." shall include an affordable housing program that meets the requirements of § 42-128-8.1, the "Comprehensive Housing Production and Rehabilitation Act of 2004" and chapter 45-53, the "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act". What the Planning Board has done was apply the contents of only one of the two Acts when they wrote the Comprehensive Community Plan being the "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act". This favored developers, not residents. But the Town Council appears to want it this way, so there has been zero push back. And our town solicitor represents the developers as well so you can take it from there.
Gary Morse August 08, 2012 at 11:45 PM
How many homes will it take to have 10% affordable in Barrington? Let me rephrase: How many homes will it take to reach Barrington's goal of 10% affordable homes if the majority town council is adding up the numbers. Ans: approximately 4350 new homes. (we have about 6000 right now) The problem is that developers are only required by town ordinance (§ 185-194) to put up 20% of any development as "affordable" homes. Thus the final 10% mandate, assuming the 20% affordable rule is generally followed, crosses over at approximately 10,400 total homes (i.e. 4350 new homes) where 1040 of that number would be classified as affordable. We will always be playing "affordable catch up". We have a long way to go if the current town council remains in place to do the absurd affordable math.

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