Storm delays appeal over contested Norwood development

Warwick Beacon ·

Norwood residents are ready to do battle, but they’ll probably be shoveling some snow first.

With the forecast for near-blizzard conditions starting early Tuesday, the Zoning Board of Review postponed until April 10 the appeal to build a three-story self-storage unit facility at Pond Plaza overlooking Sand Pond.

Norwood residents declared victory in September when the Planning Board, over the recommendations of the Planning Department, rejected the master plan of PRW Holdings LLC and Cenicot LLC, owner of the property to build the self-storage rental unit.

Now that appears to be only one battle in the war.

Agreeing with the residents, the board found the proposed unit at the rear of the existing retail building was generally inconsistent with the city’s zoning ordinance “to promote a high level of quality in design in the development of private and public facilities.”

That victory could be short lived.

The applicant is now appealing that decision to Zoning Board of Review to appeal the Planning Board decision in what promises to be a hotly contested hearing. City Planner William DePasquale estimates at least 100 residents will turn out to argue, if built, the rental storage unit will destroy the character of the neighborhood.

Marilyn Wolcki, who has been a resident of Bigelow Circle since 1962, said the issue has galvanized the neighborhood. Signs of the upcoming meeting have been posted and a core group, she said, have been going house-to-house.

“You may not see each other for years, but something like this and they all come together,” she said.

She listed the following concerns over the development: it has the potential of adversely impacting nearby Sand Pond; there is no way of knowing what business could crop up in the rental units; there’s no way of controlling when those renting the units would be coming and going and that it is a misfit for the neighborhood and would be better suited in an industrial area such as Jefferson Boulevard.

“This is in the middle of no place but a neighborhood,” Wolcki said. She believes the development would have a negative impact on property values. “Construction of this place is just going to knock the values of this neighborhood.”

In an appeal to the Zoning Board of Review, attorneys for the applicants argue the Planning Board’s decision is inconsistent with city regulations and that the Planning Board abused its discretion and “violated procedural and substantive due process.” In an 11-page memorandum John Mancini, Nicholas Goodier and Mancini Carter, attorneys for the applicants, argue that the proposed development complies with the standards and provisions of the municipality and it will have no significant negative impacts.

Furthermore, the appellants contend that the Planning Board failed to comply with state law and land development regulations and sought to support its denial by statements in the Land Development Regulations that are only to be addressed in considering an application and it failed to make written findings applicable to master plan applications.

Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix, whose ward abuts the site, said Monday he had been contacted by “quite a few people” about the development. He feels “there is legitimate skepticism when it comes to the height of the hours of operation” of the proposed self-storage unit. He said there is a self-storage unit in his ward off Jefferson Boulevard with no residences within blocks.

“It seems like the place for a storage facility,” he said.

Regardless of the Zoning Board of Review’s finding, DePasquale doubts this will be the last round in this battle. Either way, court appears to be in the long range forecast.

This story was originally posted by Warwick Beacon. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.


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