By DANIEL KITTREDGE A planned development at the site that currently houses Mulligan's Island Golf & Entertainment officially has a name - Cranston Crossing - while a petition for a zoning change needed as part of the project has been formally introduced
A planned development at the site that currently houses Mulligan’s Island Golf & Entertainment officially has a name – Cranston Crossing – while a petition for a zoning change needed as part of the project has been formally introduced before the City Council ahead of its scheduled consideration in September.
Concerned neighbors, meanwhile, were scheduled to meet Tuesday night in the Oak Hill Terrace neighborhood to discuss their worries about the project, which officials have said includes plans for a Costco wholesale club. That meeting occurred after the Herald’s press time.
Massachusetts-based Coastal Partners LLC’s petition for a major amendment to the existing Mixed Use Planned District, or MPD, zoning that currently governs the 1000 New London Ave. property was accepted as new business at Monday’s council meeting. The proposal was not discussed, as is practice for new business, and was immediately referred for consideration at the Sept. 17 meeting of the council’s Ordinance Committee. It is also scheduled to go before the city’s Planning Commission that month.
Officials have said the council and commission will hold a joint site visit at the Mulligan’s Island property in the coming weeks. The proposed amendment to the current MPD governing the site, which was adopted in the late 1990s to allow for Mulligan’s Island to operate, is essentially treated as a new application under the city’s regulations.
The narrative outline of the MPD amendment introduced during Monday’s meeting confirms a number of details of the project discussed during a late June pre-application meeting with the city’s Planning Department. The site is divided into five parcels, three of which would be governed by the uses outlined in the city’s C-4 commercial zoning and two of which would be governed by A-8 residential zoning.
The “primary commercial element” of Cranston Crossing, according to the outline, is a “new large-scale retail facility (wholesale club)” on the central portion of the property. That facility would also include a fueling station.
The narrative does not identify the wholesale club as Costco, although Mayor Allan Fung and others have confirmed that is the business being eyed for the site.
The proposal seeks the creation of a new, three-way signalized intersection on New London Avenue, opposite Brayton Avenue. It would also involve the relocation of one of the two telecommunications towers at the site and the “re-siting” of the Daniel S. Congdon Burial Lot, a historical cemetery.
Additional commercial buildings are planned on the north and south sides of the proposed wholesale club’s location, according to the narrative outline.
On the north side of the wholesale club would be “two undetermined commercial/retail/restaurant uses along the eastern side of New London Avenue (Route 2), as well as a fast food establishment with drive thru service on the southeast corner of the intersection of New London Ave and Howard Avenue,” the outline reads.
It continues: “Another smaller scale commercial zone is also proposed on the south end of the Project to transition to adjacent city owner properties.”
The residential component of the project involves “a single-family residential development of the same size lots as the abutting residential community,” according to the outline. The homes would be located southeast of the retail area.
The outline states that overall lot coverage will not exceed 60 percent of the total property. It also indicates buildings will not exceed 35 feet in height.
“The mix of large and small scale retail and residential components envisioned for the Project are consistent with mix of land uses within the surrounding areas,” the outline reads. “The Project will create significant construction and permanent employment opportunities and tax revenue for the City and represents a substantial benefit to the community. The Project has been designed to minimize the impact on existing public facilities such as the roadway network, sewers, water facilities, school system, police and fire service.”
Community reaction continues
In an email to House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Dist. 16), members of the Oak Hill Terrace neighborhood asked the speaker to attend at Tuesday night community meeting to discuss a range of concerns related to the project, including traffic, noise and water runoff.
In a statement provided to the Herald ahead of the meeting, Mattiello expressed opposition to the project as proposed.
“My opposition to the Costco Development at Mulligan’s Island is similar to the concerns I expressed 10 years ago when I opposed another big box store proposal. The development is too close to the hundreds of homes in Oak Hill, as well as a nearby playground and softball fields,” he said. “It will negatively impact the quality of life and decrease property values for all the neighbors, who will be faced with increased traffic through their peaceful neighborhoods. The proposed site is already on a congested stretch of New London Avenue that will result in severe traffic problems. I am not opposed to Costco coming to Cranston, but this site is simply inappropriate for such a large-scale project.”
Others, including local officials and candidates, have also reacted in the days since the plans became public.
Democratic mayoral candidate and Citywide Councilman Steve Stycos wrote on Facebook that he is “very concerned about the proposal to turn open space at Mulligan’s Island into big box stores, parking lots, and housing subdivisions.”
“This proposal should be carefully examined by the public and City Council for its effects on air and water quality, noise, traffic, and property values,” he said. “Large housing developments also mean higher education costs for the Cranston schools. The proposal should be rejected if found to be damaging to the neighborhood or costly to the city.”
He added: “I am especially concerned that the developers selected attorney John Bolton to represent them. Bolton was the attorney for two damaging projects presented to the City Council; a massive solar facility on Hope Road which was built and a large Cumberland Farms in Edgewood which was blocked twice by neighborhood opposition.”
Republican mayoral candidate and Citywide Councilman Ken Hopkins also questioned Bolton’s involvement in the project, citing a GoLocalProv report tying the attorney to the other GOP mayoral hopeful, Council President Michael Farina.
“I will be the watchdog councilman on this for the neighbors … Economic development in Cranston will be a priority for me but not at the cost of residents being left out of the process,” Hopkins said in a statement.
Paul Bucci, the Democratic candidate for the Ward 6 seat on the City Council, said in a Facebook post that he is “100% against this proposal.”
“I have been knocking on doors for over a month now campaigning on a ‘neighborhoods first’ approach in dealing with economic development and there is nothing ‘neighborhoods first’ about this proposal,” he wrote. “Any development of Mulligan's Island must fit in with the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Zac Sailer, the Republican council candidate in Ward 2, wrote on Facebook that he will review the plans but would “never choose to risk the overdevelopment and interruption of our local neighborhoods.”
“Cranston IS open for business, but not at the expense of quality of life and the safety of our neighborhood,” he wrote.
Nicole Renzulli, a Republican candidate for a citywide seat on the council, also weighed in on Facebook.
“I truly appreciate the insight of the neighborhood groups who have done their due diligence and fought for their families on development proposals like this in the past,” she wrote. “I am very pro-business, and I believe bringing business to Cranston will be a key to our continued growth and prosperity, but certainly not at the expense of our quality of life and neighborhoods. I believe a balanced approach to development is critical.”