NORTH SMITHFIELD – A project to build a new senior housing complex on Victory Highway is on track to begin construction, and is slated to come with side benefits for those already living in town, following a positive recommendation this week by the members of the North Smithfield Planning Board.

The board unanimously approved a final plan for Slater Village, a 120-unit residential complex first proposed by developer DAS Contracting Corporation of Hicksville, NY in 2015. A last vote on the project is reportedly expected next month.

DAS, the same company behind Silver Pines on Main Street, will build assisted living units and housing for those over the age of 55 on lots located at 1118-1156 Victory Highway, past the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses with an entrance near Belcher Avenue.

The units will consist of four buildings on a 7.5 acre site north of adjoining Silver Pines. As part of the project, DAS has plans to extend the town water lines along the roughly half mile stretch of highway between the lots and North Main Street, and loop into the existing line at Silver Pines.

According final plans discussed this week, the project will also include a public walking trail that connects to Pacheco Park, which must be built prior to residents moving in, a condition passed at the recommendation of Town Planner Tom Kravitz.

“What happens is people move in, and they don’t want a walking path,” Kravitz warned.”It’s an inexpensive recreational amenity.”

The planning recommendation brings finality to a long process for the developer. A master plan for the project first received Planning Board approval in March of 2015, but it wasn’t until 2019 that DAS completed additional steps, obtaining preliminary plan approval and permits from the state’s Departments of Transportation and Environmental Management.

A special use permit and dimensional variance for the build out had expired in the meantime, but was re-approved by the Zoning Board in February. The team has also appeared before the town’s sewer and conservation commissions.

The units must include 20 percent affordable housing as part of the approval, and Planning Board Chairman Gary Palardy noted that the lower-income units should not be built last.

“Obviously that aren’t all built simultaneously,” Palardy noted. “For whatever reason, projects can come to a halt.”

Kravitz agreed, adding, “What you don’t want is to do all the market rate, and then you’re chasing the affordable to be done.”

Planner Roland Menard also echoed the concern.

“This alleviates the situation we’ve had with other projects in the past where you have it at the tail end and we’re chasing them,” Menard said.

Speaking on behalf of the developer, Attorney Richard Kirby agreed that for every ten units to secure building permits, two could be affordable.

“You’re not allowed to isolate them,” Kirby noted, pointing to the state statute on such housing. One building, Kirby noted, will be dedicated strictly to assisted living and many of the units there, he said, are likely to qualify.

“Many of the people are on social security,” Kirby said. “We’d be meeting the affordable living (requirement) that way.”

Complete plans for the project can be found here.

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