Abutters concerned over planned development

Abutters concerned over planned development

The 78-building, 180-unit plan for the Sand Trace development, 8 Mann School Road, will sit in a low-density residential zone off Log Road.

SMITHFIELD – Abutters to the proposed Sand Trace development, at 8 Mann School Road, are seeking support in opposition to the 180-unit major development, claiming it is too large for the area and is not consistent with zoning.

A Sand Trace abutter, Steven Francazio, is recruiting neighbors to help distribute flyers and sign a petition to stop the development he said is “so wrong on so many levels.”

His home at 1 Williams Road, where he has lived for more than 40 years, sits across the street from the proposed 55-acre site off Log Road. He said the newest development is a “mini city” and does not conform to the area’s R-80 low-density residential zoning.

“What’s the point of zoning if the town is going to ignore it,” he said in an interview with The Valley Breeze & Observer.

Francazio and neighbors fought previous Sand Trace plans of 90 condos at the location in 2001, and another plan for 300 units in 2009. He said he’s defeated Sand Trace developers before, and he will do it again. This time, he fears Smithfield’s low- and moderate-income housing plan threatens to undermine his zoning rights.

With the new plan under R-80 zoning, Francazio said the Sand Trace plot would have 180 units where he believes there should 22 units, 720 people where there should be 88 people, and 360 cars where there should be 44 cars.

“In effect, in my opinion, this is selling out the neighborhood,” he said.

A Sand Trace comprehensive permit application for master plan review follows the town comprehensive plan’s outline for low- and moderate-income housing, which allows zoning waivers for developments offering 25 percent or more affordable housing.

Twenty-five percent of the 180 units proposed, or 45, will be moderate-income units that are available to people making 80 percent of Smithfield’s median income.

Pointing to the comprehensive plan as the source of the problem, Francazio takes offense to table H-25, where the Planning Department identifies 33 locations throughout Smithfield as properties to accommodate housing for those with low or moderate incomes.

The “H-25 hit-list” stripped Smithfield residents of their rights and protections afforded by zoning laws in town, Francazio said.

“It is where everything goes horribly wrong,” Francazio said. “The H-25 table has allowed select individuals in the Planning Department to target neighborhoods for destruction.”

Though Francazio accused the Planning Department of changing the list to give “preferential treatment” to developers, Town Planner Michael Phillips pointed out the comprehensive plan has included Sand Trace on the H-25 table since 2004.

Phillips said by developing a plan for Smithfield to reach the state requirement of 10 percent affordable housing stock, creating the H-25 table protects the town from being inundated with such housing projects.

“Otherwise, you open the whole town to Comprehensive Permit applications for LMI housing,” he said.

Smithfield is currently “right in the middle,” with around 5 percent affordable housing, Phillips said.

In 2012, the LMI plan and table H-25 were re-written to lower units-per-acre rates and locate more possible development sites. Sand Trace remained but was re-surveyed to show an increase of buildable area from 22.8 acres to 35.4 acres.

Sand Trace LLC owner and Smithfield developer Frank Simonelli and Phillips agree that the Sand Trace development, slated on the comprehensive plan for 177 units of LMI housing, is suitable for the proposed housing plan.

“It comes down to if the site has municipal services and infrastructure,” Simonelli said.

Phillips said Sand Trace was an ideal location when identifying possible LMI sites because it meets major criteria: it can be connected to public sewer, water, underground utilities and has previously been used as a gravel pit.

“Our parcel is earmarked and selected by the town as one of the best pieces of property for this type of project,” Simonelli said.

Sand Trace requested a waiver on road width within the development, from 34 feet to 24 feet wide, and does not propose sidewalks.

Simonelli said he wants to get ahead of “propaganda” and set the record straight about the Sand Trace development. He said the units are not rentals, but will be family-owned condos.

“I see no reason to deny it,” Phillips said.

Phillips said he suggests additional traffic studies to look at the intersection of Log Road and Pleasant View Avenue, and said the intersection may warrant a traffic signal.

The Planning Board approved hiring an independent traffic engineer to review the applicant’s traffic study at an Oct. 18 meeting.

Michael Iannotti, 97 Swan Road, which abuts the rear of the Sand Trace development, said turning left onto Pleasant View off Log Road is already difficult at peak traffic hours, and may cause safety issues for drivers.

“We’re the traffic experts because we live in the area,” Iannotti said.

In total, the Sand Trace development will include 78 duplex and triplex buildings while preserving 60 percent of the land in conservation easements.

To conform with the town’s development limit to one percent of the town’s housing stock per year, which is approximately 79 units according to Phillips, the Sand Trace comprehensive permit plan proposes to be built in three 60-unit phases each year.

The Planning Board will hold a hearing on the Sand Trace development at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Smithfield Senior Center, 1 William J Hawkins Jr Trail.

The Sand Trace development will feature family-owned two-bedroom duplexes and triplexes such as the one seen here.

Comments

"Sand Trace requested a waiver on road width within the development, from 34 feet to 24 feet wide, and does not propose sidewalks".....so in a congested area, where kids will most likely play somewhat occasionally in the streets,and ppl take walks, no sidewalks?? More narrow roads?? Creating dangerous circumstances if this waiver of street width and no sidewalks is allowed!