NEWS

Hearing leaves Save Sand Pond group wondering what comes next

By JOHN HOWELL
Posted 9/2/21

By JOHN HOWELL While studies show that Sand Pond water is among the cleanest of ponds in the state, the outcome of Monday's Zoning Board of Review meeting remained muddy. That's because on the advice of City Solicitor David Petrarca, the board voted to

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NEWS

Hearing leaves Save Sand Pond group wondering what comes next

Posted

While studies show that Sand Pond water is among the cleanest of ponds in the state, the outcome of Monday’s Zoning Board of Review meeting remained muddy.

That’s because on the advice of City Solicitor David Petrarca, the board voted to table consideration of the petition of PRW Holdings allowing it to build a three-story, 630-unit self-storage facility at Pond Plaza on Post Road bordering the pond. The action is yet another twist in the four-year battle between the developer and Massasoit Terrace residents who fear the facility could result in a degradation of pond water and the view it provides those living on its shores.

The nub of the most recent issue centers on the ruling of Superior Court Associate Justice Jeffery Lanphear. He remanded the matter to the Zoning Board after finding in an appeal brought by the residents that the board exceeded its authority by granting PRW greater than 50 percent relief of city parking regulations. John Mancini, attorney for the developer, requested Lanphear clarify whether his ruling required the board to rehear the full argument for the development, as the city contends, or if the hearing could be limited to just the parking. Petrarca reasons a fresh hearing with presentations by experts on both sides – a process that initially took three hearings and a total of 12 hours – because the composition of the board has changed.

Although residents learned prior to Monday’s hearing that no action would be taken, about 20 residents, many wearing “Save Sand Pond” T-shirts, turned out to the Police Community Room. The board accomplished its vote to table the meeting quickly, ignoring the raised hand of Save Sand Pond member David Bouchard and his request to speak. This stoked the outrage of Phil D’Erole, facilitator of the Friends of Warwick Ponds, who accused the board of shutting out the residents until Petrarca explained the board had to wait for Lanphear’s response.

The board continued the matter to Oct. 4, which as it turns out coincides with a City Council meeting. Ward 3 Councilman Tim Howe, who represents the neighborhood and was able to break away from a council committee hearing at City Hall also held Monday night, requested an alternate date to avoid a similar conflict from recurring.

Petrarca was sympathetic, explaining a date had to be set for public notification purposes yet conceivably PRW could alter its request resulting in yet another rescheduling of a hearing.

PRW was not represented at the hearing.

As of Wednesday, the zoning office had not been informed of whether Justice Lanphear had rendered a clarification of his decision as requested by Mancini.

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