Boulevard Avenue project on pause after neighbor concerns

Boulevard Avenue project on pause after neighbor concerns

After crews cleared this strip of land near Scott Pond on Boulevard Avenue, neighbors alerted elected officials and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, fearing the planned housing development is encroaching on the DEM’s wetland buffer around the pond. (Breeze photo by Nicole Dotzenrod)

LINCOLN – Plans for subdividing land to build four new homes along the banks of Scott Pond in Lincoln have been put on hold.

The application, submitted by Joshua George, called for subdividing a 31,475-square-foot lot between the pond and Boulevard Avenue.

Late last month, neighbors living across from the proposed development said they were shocked when crews began clearing trees and foliage, unaware of plans to develop the land.

Boulevard Avenue resident Lindsay D’Ambra notified the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management when she guessed that trees had been cleared within the DEM’s required 50-foot wetland buffer, measured from the water’s edge.

Representatives for the project said the land, which slopes dramatically down to the water, was professionally surveyed.

Wary neighbors began taking their own measurements to prove that the surveyor’s stakes were incorrect, and that trees were cleared within the 50-foot buffer.

During last week’s Technical Review Committee meeting, Town Planner Al Ranaldi said the developer was changing his plans in light of residents’ concerns.

Ranaldi said the applicant intends to re-survey the entire property, re-delineate the wetland buffer and re-stake the lines. In addition, he said, the project will need a RIDEM permit to move forward.

“We heard a lot from residents concerning this project and certain measurements. The applicant has decided to basically start fresh and bring back everything in a nice, neat package,” he said.

Ranaldi said he thinks all parties, including abutters, would feel more comfortable waiting until the RIDEM is able to review the project and weigh in before the Planning Board takes a vote.

“You have neighbors taking videos laying tape on the ground, it’s just ridiculous, to be honest,” said Planning Board member Michael Reilly. “We need to get the professionals back there, recertify it, see what the situation is and then vote on it.”

The project has been paused for a month to give surveyors time to re-measure the parcel and to receive a letter of non-jurisdiction from the RIDEM.

The letter would confirm that the area set for development is not within the RIDEM’s purview, so long as the developer keeps out of the wetland buffer.

If the state issues a letter of non-jurisdiction, Ranaldi said the project will be moving forward.

The project is set for a Planning Board vote on July 22. Ranaldi said attorneys for the developer, who did not return request for comment as of press time, are hoping to receive word from the RIDEM before then.

Comments

The other question I have about these lots is the setback requirement from the road. Is there enough space to keep the proposed new houses the proper distance from the street and still not encroach the 50 feet from the water.

I also don't understand the developer's claim that the land was already professionally surveyed. It should be pretty straightforward for the developer to give the surveyor's report to the Planning Board for review, unless the developer agrees that mistakes were made. That part seems pretty odd.