Decision delayed on second phase of Sand Trace project

Decision delayed on second phase of Sand Trace project

Updated plans for the proposed Sand Trace development at 8 Mann School Road show reduced units from 180 to 160, and more open space.

SMITHFIELD – The Planning Board postponed a master plan decision on the second of three phases for the proposed Sand Trace development after developers announced a decision to reduce the number of units by 20 last Thursday night, Dec. 5.

Board members decided to delay the vote to the Jan. 16 meeting to further weigh this decision.

Representing Sand Trace, attorney William Landry said the developers are now proposing 160 units at the 55-acre site. Of the 160 units, 40 will be for low-income or moderate-income units.

The development will include 42 duplex buildings at 8 Mann School Road. Previous plans called for 78 buildings at the site.

Once used as a concrete processing site, the Sand Trace lot located off Log Road is partially developed. Landry said the developer decided to reduce the number of units to lower the impact on the community.

The change also drastically increases the amount of open space planned at the site, said Landry.

The first phase will now see 67 percent open space, less than the original 70 percent proposed at the site.

The second phase also sees a reduction of open space from 70 percent to 67 percent, Landry said.

But the third phase will see an increase from the 60 percent open space proposed initially to 97 percent overall. Landry said the third phase features the highest amount of undeveloped space, and will allow for historic features such as stone walls to remain untouched.

Due to a town ordinance allowing housing proposals not to exceed 1 percent of the town’s housing units, or approximately 79 units, Sand Trace split the plan into three phases. The first two will include 60 units, and the final will seek approval for 40 units.

The first phase was approved in a 5-4 split decision on March 21, with members against the development siding with abutters on safety concerns related to a large development on a rural road.

The second phase plan is similar to the first, with a looping cul-de-sac connecting to both the first and third phases. Plans have not changed for a single entrance to the development, with a second, gated emergency exit on Williams Road.

While opposition to the first phase was strong, last week’s public hearing was sparsely attended.

Cynthia Mulvey, of Waterview Drive, said the ample living space in the Sand Trace condos could allow owners to expand the extra space into additional bedrooms.

Board member Richard Colavecchio said he was also concerned that the condos could be expanded into larger spaces.

“It’s my understanding that these were going to be two bedrooms for a lot of reasons, including school systems, additional cars, and traffic,” Colavecchio said.

Developer Frank Simonelli responded that the plans can be changed to an open floor plan on the second level that will eliminate the possibility of additional space being repurposed.

“It’s something I would not consider, I would just do, is to eliminate that completely,” Simonelli said.

Other concerns from the board and residents include the narrow width of Log Road and possible congestion at the intersection of Log Road and Route 116.

Project manager Paul Bannon spoke about the many traffic studies conducted during phase one public hearings. He said the information previously provided is accurate, and the project will not create significant delays at the Log Road and 116 intersections.

For now, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation does not require a traffic light at the intersection and recommends that the issue be revisited during build-out in five or 10 years.

“They’re not in the game of fixing things that don’t need to be fixed,” Bannon said.

Still, board members and members of the community expressed concerns on pedestrian traffic on Log Road to and from the proposed development. Though no sidewalks exist on Log Road, members said they would like to see them inside and outside the development.

“Pedestrian safety is our main concern,” member Steven Tillinghast said.