February 26, 2020

Two City Zoning Issues - Two Different Standards

Posted by bobrod72

Dear Editor:

When discussing zoning decisions in East Providence, Cumberland Farms is a hot topic these days. However, in the Phillipsdale section of Rumford there is another zoning issue awaiting a decision: an illegally operating mattress recycling operation named Express Mattress Recycling.

The business owner, Cathy Goulin, went before the zoning officer for a zoning certificate, and was denied the certificate by the zoning officer and also by Jeanne M. Boyle, Executive Director of the Waterfront Commission, both signed the certificate, because it is a "prohibited" use in the waterfront district and a violation of zoning laws. The land owner Mr. Preston Halperin, is also an attorney and let the tenant operate her business, knowing it was prohibited in the Waterfront District. Mr. Halperin decided he did not like the outcome from the zoning officer for his tenant, and decided to go before the Waterfront Commission for approval under a flex tex use (which it clearly is a recycling facility.)

The Waterfront Commission has "no authority to enforce any laws" and this business does not meet the criteria of the vision for the Waterfront District. Yet, the Waterfront Commission plans on voting on this issue, as it appears now in favor of the business. The zoning officer did make the correct call, and we have a waterfront commission voting on something they should not be voting on, because they have no authority to enforce the laws.

The land owner has illegally helped his tenant violate the laws of the city, by entering into and singing a lease with the tenant, letting the tenant operate her business for over a year now, illegally, because he claims "he needs the money to make improvements to the building." Mr. Halperin purchased the land and seven buildings for $2,500 with his business partners, has created his own hardship case, is now crying poverty before the waterfront commission to rubber stamp this, a prohibited use.

Think about it, if passed by the waterfront commission and allowed to operate (which this business is all ready operating) the waterfront commission has no authority to enforce the laws. Who does it fall back on to enforce the laws? The same person who denied the zoning certificate, the zoning officer will be responsible to enforce the laws. Mattresses are a serious fire hazard, even when torn apart and sprayed with bug bomb. Currently this facility is operating without the approval of the fire department.

Perhaps Cumberland Farms should have just expanded and asked for permission later, because that is how you do things in this city to get around zoning.


Jo-Ann Durfee
Rumford, RI


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