June 16, 2024

Planning Progress for Metacomet

Posted

Several weeks ago, the Planning Board and the Waterfront Commission’s Design Review Committee (DRC) held meetings to consider Marshall Properties’ plans for the former Metacomet Golf Club. The Planning Board focused on consistency with the City Comprehensive Plan, and the DRC’s focus was on consistency with the Commission’s design guidelines for the Metacomet Subdistrict. Both public bodies seem to take this awesome responsibility seriously, and both meetings were conducted as such.

Because many unresolved issues remain in play, the Planning Board wisely voted to table a motion on consistency for 60 days to allow Marshall to provide missing impact studies and peer reviews and for the Planning Department to continue to assess them. After hearing the presentation from Marshall and public comment two days later, the DRC took no action and continued its public hearing to a date to be determined.

KMG submitted written position statements for the records of both meetings and spoke during public comment on several major issues. There are minor issues as well, but space is limited here.

— A thorough archeological survey of the Metacomet site must be conducted to determine the extent of evidence of Native American daily living activities and the possible burial sites of their Ancient Ones there. Artifacts and burials have been uncovered at Jones Pond near Pierce Stadium, along with artifacts found at Kettle Point, suggesting the historic presence of a vast village of indigenous peoples in that area. This process is ongoing now under the auspices of the RI Historic Preservation & Heritage Commission and the Narragansett Indian Tribe.

— The scenic nature of the Veterans Memorial Parkway must be preserved. Marshall Properties’ plan is to create a roundabout on the Parkway at Lyon Avenue, with two lanes leading to it from both directions for a total of 1,600 feet. Pedestrians and bike riders are expected to share this crowded space. Protection for the Parkway is embedded purposefully in State law, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, the Waterfront District’s 2003 Plan, and City zoning ordinances. The tenor of all this protective language is that a developer must build to the capacity of the Parkway, not to alter the Parkway to its advantage.

— Walking pathways must be provided to the public throughout the development, including the golf course, which is deed-restricted as a public golf course and public space. The Waterfront District’s 2003 Plan requires public access to the water, and one of the City Council’s conditions for the rezone of Metacomet was that “the Property owner will integrate paths throughout the development.” Naturally, there are safety and liability issues to consider, but numerous articles have documented examples of peaceful coexistence of golfers and walkers. KMG extends an invitation to Marshall Properties’ to work together to identify a workable solution.

— The proposed golf course maintenance facility at the southeastern corner of the site must be relocated. As it is, the maintenance building and parking lot are planned to be 30 feet from the property line of several residences on Fisher Street and across Fort Street from a half dozen homes. The site plans call for propane tanks at the rear of the facility, 30 feet from Fisher Street back yards. This cannot possibly be good for the public health and safety of the residents, as required by good sense and the Comprehensive Plan.

— The combined grocery store/retail liquor store/café is far too big and must be reduced in size and bulk. At a proposed 98,000sf, it is nearly the size of an average big-box Walmart store. The Waterfront District’s 2003 Plan specifically says that big box buildings are prohibited and that new buildings “shall not be single-story large masses.

By the time this letter is published, the Waterfront Commission will have met on April 18th to discuss progress thus far and to hear more public comment. KMG will continue to monitor what’s going on and keep you posted.

Recently, we welcomed our 3,000th member, and we continue to grow. Please follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter at kmg4ep@gmail.com.  We will always tell you the truth.

Candy Seel
Keep Metacomet Green

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