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Council OKs Dave’s Market Access to Spring Grove Ave. If Signal’s Not Added

Warwick City Hall
Warwick City Hall
Warwick City Hall.

WARWICK, RI — The Warwick City Council unanimously granted second passage of Carpionato’s proposed zoning change at 2574 West Shore Road granting Dave’s Marketplace Spring Grove Avenue access if RIDOT doesn’t OK a new light at the plaza, despite new neighborhood protests.

City Council President Steve Merolla said the assurances of Kelly Coates, president of the Carpionato Group, which owns the property, that the light is all but assured, and the access therefore unlikely, guided his vote allowing the zoning change contingent on the state’s refusal to allow the traffic light.

“That is the representation made by the Carpionato Group. I believe that that’s what’s going to happen and I have yet to be proven wrong when it comes to their representations to the council,” Merolla said.

That reasoning guided his first vote to grant the zoning change, and would do so for his second vote, he said.

The council granted first passage, over the original protests of abutting residents on Spring Grove Avenue, on Oct. 21.

The Council’s unanimous decision followed a similarly unanimous resolution of the Council’s Committee on Planning, Property, Land Use and Community Affairs recommending favorable passage  during their meeting that lasted until about 7 p.m. Monday night, just before the regular Council meeting began.

During the committee meeting, Spring Grove Avenue residents protested Dave’s Marketplace’s need for the access, the damage it would do to their neighborhood if allowed, and that it violates Warwick’s Comprehensive Plan. Some were also critical of the Carpionato Group’s close relationships with City officials and questioned whether Warwick City Planner William DePasquale could adequately perform his job while also serving as Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon’s Chief of Staff.

Maureen McNamara, of 41 Spring Grove Ave., noted that there has been no justification offered for the access, beyond the fact that is a stipulation in Dave’s Marketplace’s lease with the Carpionato Group.

“To our disappointment, we haven’t had a single City Council member ask for it,” McNamara said.

McNamara also said she and her fellow neighbors were at a disadvantage in their efforts to resist the access into their street, because, “For one, we are not as financially invested as some of the leadership here, in Warwick, as Carpionato and Dave’s owners are.”

John Reis of 218 Spring Grove Ave. followed up on that thought, pointing out that the Carpionato Group’s owner, the late Alfred Carpionato, had donated to Donna Travis’s campaign. He asked if the City Council had considered whether Carpionato had also contributed to Solomon’s campaign, and whether that presented a conflict of interest for DePasquale in his dual roles.

RI Board of Elections records show Carpionato donated $1,000 to Solomon’s campaign May 5, 2018, and that Carpionato donated $500 to Travis’s campaign Oct. 25, 2016.

McNamara pointed out that on page 260 of Warwick’s Comprehensive Plan, the document lists among its goals and policies:

  • Avoid commercial encroachment on residential areas except for mixed-use as proposed in the Plan.
  • Protect and support existing residential neighborhoods.

“The proposed zoning change does not comply with the Comprehensive Plan and will create a negative impact for our neighborhood, so a vote, ‘No,’ tonight is the only right thing to do. A vote, ‘No,’ is protecting our rights, a job that we voted you all in there to do,” McNamara said.

McNamara also said that during the original community meeting on the subject with Carpionato Group officials and Travis, she had mistaken the Councilwoman for a Carpionato employee, and that it appeared as if she was taking notes for Coates.

“I did not take notes for Carpionato,” Travis said. Rather, she said she had been taking notes to record the information Carpionato presented and the concerns that residents expressed.

Amy Miller of 27 Spring Grove Ave. said she was present for the first community meeting on the zoning change and Dave’s development, and that she had been disappointed that Travis’s response to their concern for children in the street had been that they should keep their kids inside.

“That tells me you’re not listening. If you’re representing us, you have displayed zero evidence that you represent our interests at all. And it’s true, what Maureen said, you gave the appearance that you worked for them. I had no idea who you were, and I was very disappointed to find out that you are my representative. Never again will you be,” Miller said.

Damien McNamara expressed confusion over why the Council would continue to support the zoning amendment allowing the possibility of access into their neighborhood with hundreds of petitioners opposing it and their continued opposition at meetings.

“I can’t comprehend how the City Council could pass this knowing that you have 700 signatures that do not want this access, but one man from Dave’s Market wants it and he’s going to get it. How does that happen?” Damien McNamara asked.

Tuesday morning, Councilman Jeremy Rix said RIDOT’s procedure put them in an unfortunate position where they had to make a judgement whether the agency would allow the light, given the value of the project moving Dave’s to the old Benny’s location.

“I am not a fan of how the RI Department of Transportation’s procedure puts us in the position of voting on this before RIDOT gives its approvals, but, I am confident from the information presented by the experts to the City Council that we can expect RIDOT to do the right thing and approve the traffic light,” said Councilman Jeremy Rix. “If, for whatever reason, RIDOT does not approve the light, then, the City and the neighbors still have remedies to make sure that neighbors’ concerns are addressed, as this is not the last hearing for this development.”

The next hearing on the subject will take place before the Warwick Planning Board, Merolla said. The last meeting for the Warwick Planning Board this year is Dec. 11. The agenda for that meeting has not yet been posted.


Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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