The long-planned Cherry Hill Lane affordable housing proposal has been given the green light.
The project, which has been the topic of any number of hearings during the past few years, and withstood strong opposition from some abutters, was granted unanimous (5-0) preliminary plan stage approval at the New Shoreham Planning Board’s meeting on Wednesday. With no dissenters present in the room, and board member John Spier recused, Chair Margie Comings made the motion for approval, that was seconded by Dennis Heinz, before reading aloud the findings of fact and eight conditions.
The approval grants the Block Island Housing Board permission to move forward with a preliminary plan involving a five house subdivision and creation of eight lots located just off Cooneynus Road. The development plan calls for five single-family dwellings lots, and three open space lots on the 4.5 acre plat 14, lot 55. The housing development will have three three-bedroom dwellings and two two-bedroom dwellings that will each be priced at under $250,000.
The approval sets in motion the infrastructure phase, which will involve road, soil and drainage work to prepare for building the five dwellings. Jenn Brady, the town’s Land Use Administrative Officer told The Block Island Times that it means the project’s stewards are free to “put shovels in the ground” for infrastructure.
Brady said once the infrastructure phase of the project is completed, the Housing Board will return to the Planning Board for final approval for the project. Brady explained the four stages of the approval process; (1) preliminary application; (2) master plan; (3) preliminary plan stage approval; and (4) final approval. After being granted final approval by the Planning Board the Housing Board will have the ability to put the project out to bid to secure a contractor to build the dwellings.
The conditions that the Planning Board imposed with its approval include: (1) obtaining an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System permit from the R.I. Department of Environmental Management; (2) submitting a revised plan denoting a 10-foot setback for sheds, open space use, and installing proper drainage for the OWTS; (3) adding language to legal documents to not allow parking in open space lots; (4) coordinating underground utilities installation with the Block Island Power Company; (5) installing an underground conduit for a future broadband connection; 6) submitting a record plan for the final recording of the subdivision; (7) installing a construction entrance at the intersection of the driveway to Cherry Hill Lane and Cooneymus Road; and (8) applicant must submit a letter to the Planning Board expressing intent to complete all required improvements, and, prior to recording, the Administrative Officer must certify to the Planning Board in writing that all required improvements have been satisfactorily completed.
Housing Board Chair Cindy Pappas, who was in attendance at the meeting and has been working on the project with her board for over eight years, put it simply after being granted approval: “Thank you,” she said.
Reduction of plastics
After having single-use plastic bags, and all types of balloons banned from Block Island per order by the Town Council, the Planning Board is now seeking to have plastic straws voted off the island. The pursuit is part of the Planning Board’s initiative to ban plastic materials that are harmful to the environment.
The Planning Board voted unanimously (6-0), after Comings made the motion for the ban, which was seconded by Spier, to send the request proposal to the Town Council. “Let’s give them something easy to do,” quipped Spier.
The next Planning Board meeting is Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m.