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Council Risks Spring Grove Avenue Access With West Shore Road Plaza Zoning Change

Warwick City Hall
Warwick City Hall
Warwick City Hall.

WARWICK — The Warwick City Council bet the RIDOT will OK a new traffic light at 2574 West Shore Road Monday night, approving a zoning change granting a new Dave’s Marketplace store access to Spring Grove Avenue if that doesn’t happen.

The access, which excludes trucks, was a contingency Dave’s Marketplace, owned by Dave Cesario, made a condition of their lease of the site of the former Benny’s building, according to Kelly Coates, president of the Carpionato Group, which owns the property.

If a new traffic light is approved by the state agency for the intersection, across from the former RITE Aid building on West Shore Road, the zoning amendment stipulates that access to Spring Grove Avenue will not be used, and the neighborhood will remain separate from the development.

Although city officials and Carpionato’s traffic expert expressed confidence that the light would be approved, the contingency leaves the possibility of access to the neighborhood from the supermarket lot open.

Several neighbors opposed taking the chance.

“You’re looking at driving traffic into a dead-end street,” said Maureen McNamara, who lives on Spring Grove Avenue.

“The suggestion that if they don’t get the light we, the neighborhood has to suffer, is inappropriate,” said Amy Miller, also a Spring Grove Avenue resident. “They need to figure out a different way to configure the traffic. We don’t.”

John Reis of Spring Grove Avenue, said the agreement caused him to reconsider his loyalty to the grocer.

“Quite frankly, if that’s the way they’re going to be, then I just won’t shop at Dave’s,” Reis said.

Officials and Carpionato representatives attempted to reassure neighbors that the specter of access into their street was very unlikely.

“I think that there is a high probability that RIDOT, unfortunately not on our time table, will give some sort of signal light there,” said Bill DePasquale, Planning Director, also Mayor Joseph Solomon’s chief of staff.

“If they don’t issue a full signal at that location, I don’t know what warrants one,” said Bob Clinton, traffic expert with VHB, a consultant for Carpionato.

Coates outlined the benefits the new Dave’s Marketplace, which, when built, would be the newest and largest of the local grocery chain’s locations, will bring to the area.

First, the project will allow the developer to install new traffic signals and help mitigate traffic past and to the new site. Also, it will relieve traffic at the Dave’s location further up West Shore Road, which requires a traffic cop to manage during peak times.

The development will also increase home values in the area, he said.

But the majority of neighbors were not swayed.

McNamara pointed out that opening access to their neighborhood also opened it to traffic from the Taco Bell in the plaza, which is open hours past midnight. She protested that Carpionato and Dave’s should put them in the position of risking access through their neighborhood if the light isn’t approved.

“We’re just being bullied, and I don’t think it’s right,” McNamara said.

Reis pointed out to the Council that they could simply refuse to grant the zoning change allowing the access. He said Dave’s pulling out seemed an empty threat, since that would just leave them vulnerable to bigger grocery chains.

“Dave’s is not going to pull out,” Reis said.

Council President Steve Merolla pointed out the confidence officials have that a light will be approved for the plaza, and the inclination of the RIDOT to act to make intersections safer when possible.

“The RIDOT wants to see improvements, too,” Merolla said. He said he would support the zoning change

The change passed in a unanimous vote.

In other news, the City Council also unanimously passed $100,000 for a study into building a new high school. The prospect of a new high school building project has been a topic of discussion at Warwick School Committee meetings for weeks now.

“Make a long story short, I think this is well worth the $100,000, since we have the possibility to get half of it back,” Merolla said. He noted that the state has matching funds of up to 52 percent for new school building projects.

Councilman Anthony Sinapi warned that, following a recent discussion with Warwick Schools Superintendent Phil Thornton, he learned doing the study may wind up costing more, or even less. He said he wanted the council to know that up front so there are no surprises later.

“I will definitely be supporting this,” Councilman Ed Ladouceur said. He said a high school is likely to cost about $190 million, and that the city shouldn’t risk losing out on getting 52 percent of it back from the state.

The city council also approved the resolution unanimously.

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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