On a Frenchtown Road property that sits one third in East Greenwich and two thirds in North Kingstown, a developer is now proposing a big box store sit in NK while EG would get a cinema complex – a change from a plan first unveiled in 2011. The site is right next to the former Brown and Sharpe complex, west of Stop and Shop.
Paul Mihailides, developer of The Commons at Frenchtown Road, came before the Planning Board earlier this month in his second pre-application hearing on the project. The first hearing, in 2011, had a big box store situated on the East Greenwich portion. That was mainly because North Kingstown had an ordinance in place from the 1990s forbidding such giant retailers (following the arrival of Walmart on Ten Rod Road).
But North Kingstown Planning Board said in the May meeting it was in favor of amending the ordinance against stores bigger than 85,000 sq. ft. That could have been because of the argument made by Mihailides lawyer John Revens that the ordinance as is keeps big box stores – and their associated tax dollars – just outside North Kingstown. The NK Town Council would still need to approve an ordinance change.
In East Greenwich, the area is zoned residential, so the developer would need to seek a zone change here.
While there was some concern voiced at the EG Planning Board meeting that East Greenwich would bear all the traffic burden of the development without enough of the tax revenues, members were overall largely in favor of the development.
There remain, however, difficulties to iron out with both towns, complicating the process for the developer. In addition, Revens told the EG Planning Board his client had not been able to persuade the owner of the very large Brown and Sharpe building just to the east to sell.
The new proposal has no residential component, unlike the earlier version. All water would come from Kent County Water Authority, according to Revens. Mihailides refused to discuss possible tenants for the development. According to EG Town Planner Lisa Bourbonnais, a confusion arose in May because the word "target" was shown on site plans, but the developer said the word was meant to convey a "target number of parking spaces" not the retailer Target.
"We have no idea what retailer might go in there," said Bourbonnais.
The next move for the developer would be to seek master plan approval – which would need to go before both towns.
The EG Planning Board meets next on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
Editor's Note: This story was amended at 10:25 a.m., Sept. 24, 2012.