Traffic plan key to further Sockanosset development

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The Chapel View-Garden City-Sockanosset area of Cranston is already heavily developed, but is still a work in progress, especially at the Fountains at Chapel View 22.4 acre site that is essentially a blank slate right now. City Planner Jason Pezzullo is ready for what lies ahead, saying confidently: “We’re going to make it work.”

A meeting between the developers of the Fountains, the Carpionato Group, and Cranston residents is being planned for March to discuss the plans for future use of the land. In the midst of that, Pezzullo said that any application for the site, which could potentially be for a Costco, has to be completely vetted.

An application would include, perhaps most importantly, a traffic study of the Sockanosset Crossroads area, which Pezzullo dubbed the “downtown” of Cranston.

Before the Carpionato Group submits a preliminary plan for the Fountains site to the planning department, they must perform a traffic study, which is reviewed by a neutral outside consultant, and meet with the planning commission. Their plan for the site also has to be reviewed by the city engineer.

As for the traffic, Pezzullo expressed confidence about making it work.

“The biggest thing about Sockanosset is there are a lot of lights, entry points, exit points, and conflict points,” he said. “The mitigation strategy will be about unifying and simplifying.”

That simplification is needed, he said, because if doesn’t make sense to stop every 100 yards at a stop light, so one of the tasks of the city might be to rework the entire stop-light structure on Sockanosset.

Pezzullo also expressed that traffic isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“If this was a ghost town, then the whole thing has failed,” he said. “The idea that congestion is bad is the wrong attitude. You’re going to have lots of cars, activity, people. This is more or less our downtown and I don’t think anyone should expect to go free down the road in a downtown anywhere. We have to except certain realities about the situation.”

He also talked about a potential Costco, saying that the “peak times” for a store like that are when most of the workers in that are aren’t around, so it wouldn’t necessarily add as much daytime or rush hour traffic as some would think.

He also brought up a potential point of conflict that involves the property owners in the area: who’s going to pay for a traffic study and peer review of the area?

He asks this, he said, because most of the “downtown” is already developed, from Garden City to Whole Foods to Citizens. These “big users,” as he dubbed them, are already “cooked in the cake,” so because Carpionato Group is one of the last to develop on the area, they shouldn’t necessarily have all the responsibility of figuring out how to make it work.

Pezzullo expects most of this preliminary planning, including a potential March meeting with residents, to be done within six months. When the plan is submitted to his department and the studies on the Sockanosset Crossroad area is done, they’ll be able to make a final decision about what will be developed at the Fountains at Chapel View.

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