May 27, 2018

WDC Proposes Affordable Housing


To the Editor:

The Women's Development Corp. (WDC) of RI proposes to develop a 36 unit affordable housing development at the site of the Anawan School on Bay State Road. After an initial period, during which Rehoboth residents will be given preference, the units will be open to qualifying low income candidates from anywhere. While there is a need for affordable housing in Rehoboth, there are serious questions about this project that must be addressed.

The WDC intends to take land for parking from our Senior Center, by paving the Community Garden. The Rehoboth Community Garden, lovingly cultivated and tended for the past nine years, will be lost. The Application states “a total of 86 parking spaces are proposed (54 new, 32 existing)." He divulged that the WDC intends to “share” parking belonging to the Rehoboth Senior Center. Rehoboth Senior Center members have complained that the Senior Center is already inadequate, and the proposed development would only make things worse.

At the Zoning Board Permit Application Meeting Mr. Harrison of WDC indicated on the Site Plan that a new well will be drilled on the property. Massachusetts State Code mandates that public wells must have a 212’ radius of undeveloped land around them. Half of this proposed 212’ radius protected area is on an abutter’s property. This will prevent that abutter from using their land without restriction. Will their be an eminent domain taking? The Town has in the past displayed a callous disregard for abutters’ property rights, specifically residents’ water supply. The Rehoboth Senior Center leaching field was built within 96 feet of an abutter’s well.

The Town was required to drill the abutter a new well that complied with the mandated distance of 100 feet between septic systems and well heads.

Based on the a typical daily usage of 80 to 100 gallons per person, the development will extract up to three million gallons per year from the aquifer. The WDC has not presented hydrological studies that demonstrate whether or not there is sufficient potable water on the site nor what impact the water draw might have on neighbors' wells.

Years ago the Anawan School well was connected to the Rehoboth Senior Center. One prior well on that property was closed because of high uranium levels. Rehoboth does not have a typical aquifer, we have bedrock where water collects in pockets and cracks.

The project will require a variance to Rehoboth's Groundwater Protection District's by-laws. No geo-technical soil studies have been submitted to determine the perc rate or the presence of clay or other non-permeable soils on the site which will determine whether an adequate septic system can even be built.

A high density housing development complex with a concentrated population requires large scale solutions for water usage and waste water treatment. Rehoboth is still a rural community, lacking the infrastructure to support a large housing project. We do not have town water and town sewage.

Many in our town have expressed fond recollections of the old Anawan School and commented on the incongruity of a three story apartment complex in our rural community. A better use of this landmark might be to convert it into our urgently needed new Town Hall.

Please attend the next Zoning Board Meeting scheduled for 7:00 PM on August 17th at the Rehoboth Senior Center. 

Veronica M Brickley


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