Smooth Start for Rumstick Subdivision

Bluemead Farm off of Chachapacasset Road hits almost no bumps before the Barrington Planning Board; it will be referred for a possible archeological study.

The proposed Bluemead Farm subdivision in Rumstick got relatively smooth sailing before the Barrington Planning Board Wednesday evening, Sept. 5, in Town Hall.

The nine-lot subdivision on the corner of Chachapacasset and Beach roads will be referred to the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission for a possible archeological study because it sits adjacent to a spring-fed pond along Beach Road that dates back to pre-Colonial days.

And the developers will have to come back to the Planning Board with a specific “grading plan” for the 13.6 acres that tilt and slope toward Narragansett Bay.

“It’s a pretty tough lot,” said Planning Board Chairman Mike McCormick.

But the proposal presented to the planners “is pretty much going to be it,” said David Gardner, of the Warwick engineering and surveying firm that bears his name and developed the site plan.

“We’re not asking for waivers or special zoning,” added Martin Slepkow, attorney for the owner, Bluemead Family L.P. of 211 RumstickRoad.

“It’s a subdivision that follows the regulations,” said Gardner, while trying to lessen the environmental impact as much as possible. “We’re trying to save as many trees as we can.”

Stormwater drainage also will flow into a natural depression and a rain garden that each homeowner will have to take into account when designing their home.

There was some concern expressed by a neighbor with the developer’s intent to allow homeowners to build whatever type of house they want on the site. In essence, the subdivision will be built out one lot at a time.

“The final lot configurations will be determined by the types of houses built and their orientation,” Gardner said.

The development’s infrastructure – water, sewer and utilities – will be built by the developer.

The subdivision also includes a 623-foot long road that ends at a cul de sac. Eight of the houses will sit along the road; one will sit along Chachapacasset Road. Two of the houses will be built as affordable homes under Barrington's inclusionary zoning regulations.

Several other neighbors questioned the drainage of stormwater, particularly toward the pond. But Gardner assured them that “there will be no increase in the volume of water into the pond that already flows there. We’re collecting all the water runoff from the road (Chachapacasset) to the end of the cul de sac.”

The amount of fill that will need to be brought onto the site to level the road and several of the lots also is a concern. Gardner said several of the lots may have to be raised.

Helen Tjader of the brought up the issue of the historic spring and natural pond. She cited the historical volume, “Sowams,” which traces the pond and the spring back to the mid-1600s.

The plan for the subdivision also will be referred to the Coastal Resources Management Council and other state and local agencies for “peer reviews.”

Bluemead Farm will be back on the Planning Board’s agenda at the Oct. 2 meeting. The public information meeting was adjourned until then.

neighbor September 07, 2012 at 07:11 PM
It is incorrect to say that this application "sailed through" the Planning Board...there were many concerns expressed by the neighbors who attended this meeting. A previous application from this applicant was approved several years ago that included less houses and less impact on this natural area. Why is this new plan, that calls for a significant amount of re-grading, denser build-out and proposed runoff being directed to a privately-owned natural pond even being considered?
Gary Morse September 07, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Neighbor, I used that "sailed through" phrase in my earlier post to make a point. There is a difference between a normal zoning application vs the new affordable housing zoning applications (i.e. the comprehensive permit process under Section 185 of the town's local ordinances). The short answer is that prior applications might have been scaled back because they did not include "affordable" homes. But mention the word affordable in any new application (aka a comprehensive permit), and our town officials will pave the way for virtually any high density application anywhere in town, even in Rumstick. And this will continue for years to come. The ordinance specifies that for every 10 new homes in any development, at least 2 must be affordable homes. Thus the math of this problem to reach a 10% total mandate requires that 4000 new homes must be built in town in order to reach the ultimate 10% crossover. This is because for every 2 new affordable homes added, 8 more non affordable homes are added to the current 6000+ home starting point. I know this sounds absurd, but residents were never told the whole truth about this crazy plan.
Gary Morse September 08, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Neighbor, I challenged town officials to explain how they were implementing the affordable housing laws here in town back in May 2012. A series of email exchanges took place between the town council, myself, and town attorney Nancy Letendre. In one written opinion from Nancy Letendre, she actually had to change the written language of the statutes in order to make the case for how the town was implementing the property tax subsidies being paid by local residents. Only Councilor Bill Dewitt had a problem with this and challenged Ms. Letendre to explain, to which Ms. Letendre made her infamous statement: "There's a lot of attorney's whose livelihood depends on these fuzzy clauses here". It was clear that Councilors Speakman and Weymouth were in favor of property tax subsidies paid by local residents to promote affordable housing development in town. You can watch the debate of the 7/30/12 affordable housing council meeting at: http://www.ci.barrington.ri.us/towncouncil.php The affordable debate begins at the 2 hour and 44 minute mark and lasts for about 50 minutes. Best to download the whole 501MB file first then start watching. This allows you to go directly to the points you want to click to. Finally, I challenge town officials to dispute my numbers that we will need as many as 4000 new homes in town in order to meet the 10% affordable mandate. Gary Morse
Lorraine F September 08, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Are you saying that any affordable project anywhere can get high density waivers just because 20% of the homes are classified as being affordable? And how can this be considered an affordable home if the people buying the homes get to choose what type of home they want? I thought the town required that the affordable homes had to be the same as the rest of the project. If the rest of the homeowners put up mini McMansions, are taxpayers subsidizing that? Where do I sign up for an affordable McMansion?
Gary Morse September 08, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Good points Lorraine, Nockum Hill was rejected on affordable housing ordinance issues, but Bluemead appears to have been approved with violations to the town ordinances. The town ordinance requires architectural consistency for all homes in a project, so how did the Planning Board grant waivers allowing homeowners to build whatever type of house they want on the site? And where did the developer's attorney get the idea they were “not asking for waivers". Local ordinance Section 185-185(C) states: "All low- and moderate-income housing units proposed are integrated throughout the development; are compatible in scale and architectural style to the market rate units within the project; and will be built and occupied prior to, or simultaneous with the construction and occupancy of any market rate units." Are they going to put up the affordable homes first, and then allow subsequent buyers to put up McMansions along side? Nockum Hill was denied because it did not adhere to the ordinance. Are we now heading for a lawsuit from the Nockum Hill developers for inconsistent treatment? Of course our town attorney gets paid to litigate at a direct cost to taxpayers. "There's a lot of attorney's whose livelihood depends on these fuzzy clauses here". Town attorney Nancy Letendre - 7/30/12 We need a new town council to get control of this insanity.


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