New Mendon Road condos up for review

New Mendon Road condos up for review

CUMBERLAND – A plan to construct 22 buildings containing 115 new condo units off Mendon Road, near Doire Road and Meadowbrook Drive, will go before the Cumberland Planning Board on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

The board will be considering amending the master plan for Hunting Hill, also known as Meadowbrook Green.

The 17-acre major land development had a master plan approved in 2008, for 107 units in six buildings, grandfathered by the state tolling law extending the standing of plans approved by planning boards.

The property is zoned R-3 (Multi-Housing Residential), which for sites with water and sewer allows for one unit for the first 10,000-square-foot lot and one unit for every 5,000 square feet thereafter.

The owner could have maxed out at 123 units, an increase allowed because the General Assembly has since removed wetland setbacks and steep slopes from being used in the density calculations, said Jonathan Stevens, Cumberland’s director of planning and community development. Mayor Bill Murray and his team were able to persuade the developer to reduce the number of units down to 115, he said.

Eric Yeghian, president of Vikon Properties, and a Cumberland resident who lives off Angell Road, is the developer behind the project. Yeghian told The Breeze his intention “is to be as sensitive to the terrain and the environment as possible,” doing his best to meld buildings and infrastructure into the existing terrain “in the least obtrusive way possible.” Much of the natural stone on site will be repurposed into stone retaining walls and other features, said Yeghian, and preserve “every tree possible.”

Yeghian said he envisions “very little” impact on local school enrollments from his development, as all units will have two bedrooms only and contain “high-end finishes inside and out.” His target demographic is a combination of retirees and young professionals, and perhaps people in their “pre-family stage,” he said.

Residential development projects have become a sore subject for many in Cumberland, especially as some projects that were promoted as being for young professionals have produced more students than some expected.

The Meadowbrook Green project was previously proposed as a multi-family rental apartment project, said Yeghian. His preference was to change it to a development with owner occupants, as that type of resident “is more likely to have a pride of ownership” and be “vested in the community.”

“I want this to be something everyone can be proud of,” he said.

The condos will be put on the market at the most economical price point possible, in the “mid-$300s,” according to Yeghian.

This project is still in the very preliminary stages, Yeghian added, with no site plan drawings yet developed. He said he expects the design and approval process to take much of the next year. He is working closely with the town, reaching out to neighbors as well, all in hopes of developing the property in “a harmonious way with all parties.”

Yeghian is working on a number of other projects in the area, including The Oaks in Smithfield, a 32-unit development at the corner of Rte. 7 and Harris Road, The Vistas, a 42-unit development in East Greenwich, the Stone Ridge Preserve, an 18-unit townhouse project in North Attleboro, Mass., and Highland Hills, 52 single-family “starter homes” in Woonsocket.

The developer is proposing two-bedroom townhouse condos in clusters of four, six and eight units, according to Stevens. The townhouse structures are to be tiered into the topography of the land, as was done, for example at the Wake Robin condominium complex in Lincoln, preserving rock outcroppings and mature vegetation.

Consistent with other two-bedroom apartment and condominium developments in town, the number of school-aged children living at Meadowbrook Green would be expected to be about six per 100 units, or fewer than 10 students, according to Stevens.

The road is to be privately maintained. It is expected that the developer would be installing a vegetative buffer to the northern boundary with abutting neighbors on Doire Road, Stevens added.

The administration was also able to negotiate a mitigation of the development’s traffic impacts on Mendon Road, he said. There is to be a new connection of Meadowbrook Drive to Chimney Hill driveway so vehicles can be channeled to the traffic signal. The developer has also been asked to work with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to improve the synchronizing of that signal and the next light to the south on Mendon Road to allow more free traffic flow on Mendon at morning and evening peak periods, said Stevens.

The Feb. 28 Planning Board meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 45 Broad St.

Comments

I hope to God that you have done a valid market analysis to see if these condos will sell at that price, AND that there is a need for that amount of condos to be built. Please do not tear up the land just for the sake of building. Make sure that this project is warranted.

Who is kidding who, open secret: Mendon Rd. is a traffic nightmare now, so what is another 115 to possibly 200 more cars? Really?
I am sorry, I am not sure that the taxes created through residential development offset the demand for services and the headaches created by it. Why can't we let this land sit as open space or find a way to develop it to minimize traffic and school impacts? I am tired of watching Menodn Rd turn into Mineral Spring Ave. Lets do what is best for the Town.

Here we go again. Why do you have to build on every inch of property in Cumberland? This town is overcrowded as it is. It has lost its integrity of being a nice place to live and raise children. I'm astounded that building permits keep getting handed out left and right. Stop destroying this Town.

So the PUD was denied in fear that the number of children would increase in the Ann&Hope area, but this development passes the "kid test"? What's the difference between # of children that could possible move in here or at the proposed building updates there?

Just like when Cumberland Crossings was proposed these units were going to be purchased by professional people with NO children now biggest bust stop in Cumberland . If you must build them do so but stop the lying we are not country bumpkins .

While I commend the developer for indicating he will be sensitive to neighbors and land concerns, I don't see the need for this development in Cumberland. And I see much wrong with the numbers and impact presented in this article (both provided by Mr. Stevens and Mr. Yeghian).

First of all - indicating that there will be less than 10 children living at these condos - Cumberland Crossings, the nearby apartment complex, has over 70 as written here in the Breeze just a short time ago and is one of the largest if not THE largest bus stop in town - and that development has smaller units than what is being proposed here. But at the recent informational hearing, Attorney Michael Kelly, representing Mr. Yeghian, indicated there are only 14 students living at Cumberland Crossings. And now Mr. Stevens says 10 - based on what data?

Traffic - at the informational hearing, the developer's attorney, Mr. Kelly, indicated that their traffic study (which was notably incomplete - they did not assess during school hours, during weekend hours, etc. and a full assessment needs to be completed) showed they would expect 49 cars to come out of this development in the morning and a similar number in the afternoon. One Planning Board member asked how many cars come out now (out of the 14 house street currently there - 14 houses that are NOT large - some that are smaller than the proposed condos). 25. 25 Cars come out of the 14 house development now. But only 49 are expected to come from 115 condos? Come on! The Planning Board member called out their numbers, and I am thankful for that. I would hope next week to see a more accurate assessment of the true traffic impact.

In addition - the entrance/egress plans are ridiculous. I encourage everyone to take a look at them here: http://clerkshq.com/default.ashx?clientsite=cumberland-ri under Planning Board Agendas and Minutes and January 10 Workshop.

I, too, am concerned with what Cumberland is becoming - how do all of these condos (this one, Nate Whipple, Bear Hill, etc. etc. etc.) fit in to our Comprehensive Plan?

So, so frustrating.

I agree that we are overcrowding the town and would like to see the building permits stopped. On the other hand, if you owned the property and were paying taxes on the open land wouldn't you want the options of doing something with the land. Not just look at trees. The only way to stop development is for the town to purchase all this land, or someone else to buy the land -- pay the taxes every year on it-- and let it sit.

Follow the money trail to see how all of this development is being facilitated. I can guarantee that those greedy people don't have one iota of concern for Cumberland being over developed, increasing traffic, or even if Cumberland is transitioned into the likes of Pawtucket or even Woonsocket. All of this is about greed and acquiring wealth. Whether it be officials looking to add to the town coffers, administrators trying to win budget increases, politicians vying for votes, or private entities looking for a big payday, the reason is the motivation. Whether they realize it or not, the taxpayers don't have a horse in the race. Get in line...

Of course I'd want to do something with the land *if* my primary purpose of owning said land was to make a profit. Some people actually enjoy walking through nature, and believe me, if I had the $ I would purchase the land and donate it to the land trust. I'm not begrudging this person's right to build... but there is something to be said for building what is necessary. It was mentioned in the hearing that water is already an issue flooding homes on Meadowbrook - what happens when the soil is then built on and vegetation removed? The road is to be privately maintained, but Meadowbrook is not a private road and can't handle that amount of traffic. Is there a reason he can't take the same amount of land and build a development of beautiful single family homes - something desperately needed in Cumberland and in high demand - instead of condos? What happens when the condos don't sell? And his assertion that these will be sold for 300K+ ... um, there are very few developments in Cumberland that garner those prices - what happens when he has to sell them for 200K? But 4 bedroom homes are going for 450K+ at this point and he could get probably 20-30 on there if he gave them about 1/2 acre lots each.

I think we are on the same page. I'd like more single family homes instead of condos too. Or single bedroom condos. But that isn't my point. My point is these land owners pay more taxes than we do for property they don't live on, don't have a business on, or don't actually use. If they state would remove all taxes associated with these unused pieces of land, they might have a chance to stay as they are.
Some of these owners inherited the land from there Families (not sure if this is the case here) and can not afford to pay the taxes every year and are forced to sell. The people who purchase these properties are spending Money to make money.
Unless we as taxpayers are willing to increase our taxes so the land owners can go tax free and leave the land as is, this growing problem is never going to go end. Ultimately all wooded lots and unused land that is purchased will have something built on it. It may take years but it is going to happen. The courts believe that land owners should be allowed (within reason) to build on there property regardless of the traffic or school issues.

I don't understand the desire to nestle these large condo developments into residential areas here in Cumberland. However, if I want to build a 10 foot fence to hide the awful view I'd be cited.

Such a large development should have its own independent access road. Instead, this project will share a road that provides access to residential single family homes which may have several cars parked on the street at any given time. The plan mentions that Meadowbrook is 40 feet wide, and I highly doubt that (maybe 35' at its widest, since Lynch seems unable to pave nice straight lanes). Now, there will be an influx of traffic (a 10 car change a day alone is a big difference). In addition, if any of those single family homes have children residing, there will also be an increase in the potential hazard of a child getting hit by a speeding Indian coming home from a late night at CVS with their Bollywood Grill take out.

I don't care about developing land. I don't care about more people living in these developments. Those issues are not going to be halted. However, I am frustrated with the way people operate cars, and the infrastructure of Cumberland's roads. Cumberland officials need to realize that these big
development projects require wider roads (not the current cow paths), sidewalks, traffic control devices and real planning.

The modge podge of slapping buildings of random in zones that are classified "residential commercial and industrial" all at once needs to stop. The Cumberland zoning regulations need to be revisited and updated for our current conditions.

My opinion, no development without re-engineering Meadowbrook Dr. Maybe ask Alviti to drop in a couple round abouts..

I am extremely disappointed in this entire project proposal as well as several other recent projects in our town. We are letting developers dictate what happens in this town with no regard for town planning and environmental impact. I propose that new developments are required to contribute a percentage of total sales to the Cumberland Land Trust or other open space projects in town. Another percentage of total sales should be put into town coiffers so that town officials can hire additional independent research and feasibility studies. It seems these developers are walking all over town officials and not able to hire and pay for quality information to negotiate with developers and fight back to minimize the negative impacts of these projects.