Diamond Hill Road lots will be re-zoned to reflect current use

Diamond Hill Road lots will be re-zoned to reflect current use

This strip mall on Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland, just north of Route 295, will have its zoning designation changed to commercial. Previously, the plaza had a special exemption for office space, but over the years, various types of businesses have moved in, including the popular J's Deli. (Valley Breeze Photo by Tom Ward)

CUMBERLAND - Town officials are taking the unusual step of initiating the rezoning of four properties north of Chapel Four Corners that were allowed to develop as commercial sites despite being zoned for single residences.

Director of Planning and Community Development Kelley Morris says the problem dates back about 12 years when the Zoning Board of Review granted a special exception for the plaza containing J's Deli rather than forcing the developer to seek rezoning from the Town Council.

The town sought permission of the owners and is picking up the cost of advertising, she said, and charging no fees.

Addresses are:

2364 Diamond Hill Road, owned by Edgar Alger III of Cumberland, doing business as Mars Enterprises. This is the J's Deli Plaza.

2370 Diamond Hill Road, owned by Respro Realty of Providence, the real estate office.

2130 Diamond Hill Road, owned by Respro Realty and serving as the parking lot of the Residential Real Estate office.

2374 Diamond Hill Road, an office building built in 2006 and owned by Robert Geddes of Cumberland, doing business as Hill Management LLC.

The plaza initially had a special exception for office space but over the years has hosted a mix of office and retail uses.

Rezoning all the properties at once aligns them with their current uses and removes barriers to new commercial development there, Morris said.

She told the Planning Board in a memo, "The preference from a land use and planning perspective is to assign zoning designations consistent with the use of the property rather than granting use variances."

She also noted that Cumberland's land use plan is for "nodes of commercial development," such as the ones represented here.

Specifically triggering the decision to change the zoning were two new businesses moving into the J's Deli plaza - The Pea Poddery and a nail salon - said Morris.

Building Official Neil Hall raised the issue recently, she said, when two new tenants began making plans to move in. Both might need new special permits or a rezone, unless action was taken on the entire plaza, said Morris.

The plan was discussed only briefly before the Planning Board last week, where members unanimously agreed to recommend approval by the Town Council, which is expected to hear the request at its Dec. 18 meeting.

In other Planning Board action last week:

* Members granted Colbea a one-year extension on its preliminary application for a major reconstruction of the Shell gas station at Chapel Four Corners. Colbea had run into a series of delays in its application for zoning setback relief before the Zoning Board of Review.

However, the four special use permits it needed from the Zoning Board were granted at the Nov. 13 meeting.

They are: A request for the gasoline sales and convenience store; the car wash special use permit request; the drive-through service request, and the fast-food service special use permit.

Zoning board member Peter Vosdagalis, who lives in a condominium at nearby 50 Abbott Run Valley Road, was opposed to all but the gasoline sales/convenience store. The other four members gave each piece of the project a positive vote.

The Planning Board will now begin a master plan review of the project, while state permitting is also needed.

* The board gave the go-ahead to CVS Pharmacy Inc. for a 3,888-square-foot addition to a 20,000-square foot building on Highland Corporate Drive, with an expanded two-level parking lots for 137 more employees.

The new office space will house the employees of what's called the enterprise digital group division that currently has 50 employees but will grow to 200. This is a group of employees who will work flexible hours and was described as "creative" and "skilled" by the CVS representative at the meeting.

* Morris discussed the town's plans for updating the Comprehensive Plan, a major undertaking likely to take more than 18 months and involve input from the Planning Board, Town Council and interested citizens.

Towns are required by the state to work within a 20-year time frame as it addresses needs and goals and policies about such issues as parks and recreation, housing, economic development, transportation, water, sold waste, land use and more.

Comments

Just keep in mind that once the zoning is changed that opens a lot of doors . Almost any kind of bussiness can be opened at that location. Why all of a sudden are they looking for a change. Smells funny to me.Another special deal.

This all reminds of about 15-years or so ago (+ or -) when it became a big issue. More and more and more large commercial vehicles were being parked on 'Residential Properties" in violation of Town Zoning Laws. In a few instances these were tractor trailer rigs, some reefers wherein motors are left running all night long. All of this mixed in among beautiful middle class neighborhoods.

These violators were constantly informed that they were in violation and to cease....but, as could be expected, nothing were done.

Finally, the matter came before the Town Council wherein action was taken.

All of the 'Law Breakers' were grand-fathered and told that they could now legally, after breaking the law for years, now do so legally. The council then approved new more stringent language was added.

Today, the exact same kinds of violations (Large Coommercial Vehicles parked on Residential property) are still taking place.

And, as is de Rigueur in Cumberland - "Nothing Is Being Done".....Zoning Enforcement non existent!

I point out the above because, for all intents and purposes, the exact same thing is taking place with what is being proposed here with these properties that are about to be re-zoned.

Buildings were built, businesses were allowed to operate where they were not supposed to be.?

Now, that the years have passed, and all of this has been allowed to take place (ILLEGALLY)....Cumberland Officials will now allow all of them to do what they do legally...that being what you have, over the years, done illegally.

I felt this need be known so that any and all that may wish to do some thing similar, as to any of the above examples, and cannot get permission to do so....don't worry about it....go and do it. Sooner or later you'll, also, be made legal!

First off...this has NOT been approved. Go to the Council meeting on the 18th, like the article stated, that is the final approval date. READ FOLKS READ. Second off... the use will be controlled to what is there NOW. SOOOO Chief not just any business can move it!!! Please it is easy to complain and hate, use your mind mussels.

Oooops, maybe?

And my apologies if I did not come across as intended?

My point, in what I stated, while I understand no approvals have yet taken place, and I have no objections with what is to be done.....what I was trying to explain, and using an example to do so.....is that far too many things get done in this town without getting approval.....and then, after the fact, permission is asked, and more often then not granted, without so much as a slap on the wrist?