N.S. zoners reject appeal of Chipotle/Starbucks project

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Attorney John Mancini

NORTH SMITHFIELD – An attempt by the developer behind Dowling Village to halt an effort to build two fast food restaurants on a lot adjacent to the shopping plaza failed this week, when zoners voted unanimously to reject an appeal of the Planning Board’s decision on the project.

Attorney John Mancini represented BB/WW Properties LLC in the appeal, which sought to overturn planners’ approval of the master plan for a project to construct a Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks at 82-84 Eddie Dowling Highway based on the premise that a traffic study that accompanied the application was flawed. BB/WW is a Warwick-based business managed by Dowling Village developer Brian Bucci.

“The concern that this abutter has centers around traffic,” said Mancini.

Alrig USA received master plan approval in October for a proposal to construct the two 2,380 square foot restaurants on land now owned by Landmark Medical Center. The project would see two currently vacant single-story brick buildings on the lots demolished to make way for the businesses, both set to feature drive-through service.

Mancini stated that zoners should reverse the Planning Board’s decision because it relied, in part, on a traffic study that featured the wrong use code. The study, he said, utilized the code for a, “fast casual restaurant,” rather than one specifically identifying the businesses as drive throughs.

“It makes it seem as if traffic is less intense and more compatible with the surrounding area,” the attorney said.

Zoning Board Chairman Robert Najarian, however, noted that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation must review the traffic study before the project gets final approval.

“RIDOT has to accept that study as accurate,” Najarian said. “They would flag it and say we don’t accept this.”

“If it’s futile, why continue on a fool’s mission if you know there’s a flaw?” Manicini responded.

“It’s not for us to determine whether an applicant is on a fool’s errand or not,” said Najarian. “If it was approved by RIDOT, it would appear to be a moot point That’s where this matter needs to be adjudicated.”

Attorney Michael Resnick of Kelly, Souza & Parmenter representing Alrig USA called the appeal a, “complete red herring.”

“There was absolutely no evidence that was before the Zoning Board whatsoever this project would have an adverse impact on the surrounding traffic,” said Resnick.

The project must still obtain state permits as well as preliminary approval from the Planning Board, a stage in the approval process that involves far more detailed design plans.

Resnick noted that the traffic study was provided by the developer but not required at this early phase of approval.

“This is an exercise in persuasion,” Resnick said. “It’s not evidence.”

Zoners rejected the appealm but board member Vincent Marcantonio acknowledged that it’s unlikely to mark the end to legal opposition.

“This is going to go on and on,” Marcantonio said. “It’s going to cost people a lot of money.”

In his testimony, Mancini confirmed the assessment.

“The applicant is not going away,” he said of his cliant. “The applicant has multiple problems with this. We’re just addressing one at this stage.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. When the stoplight for traffic entering Dowling Village is red, there is already a huge problem with cars trying to exit Subway and Wendy’s. Now you want to cause the same issue on the other side of the highway? How stupid!!!

  2. This is Bucci doing his best to add more pain to Landmark. He’s pissed that Landmark turned down his offer for this land. He retaliated by closing off the entrance closest to the highway. Landmark sued as they have an easement clause. You can read about it here. Both were denied their summary judgement request 7/14/22. So it is ongoing. https://casetext.com/case/prime-healthcare-services-landmark-llc-v-bucci

    This Bucci action appears to be more of the same. Thus Mancini’s statement: The applicant is not going away,…

  3. Traffic in that area with multiple cubcuts for multiple businesses is already a mess. These 2 new establishments will just make it more congested. With many people unable to learn how to use the center turn lane, this should not be approved.
    The empty corner lot near the left side of the entrance to Dowling Village should be included as the access point and utilized from Dowling Village Blvd not from Eddie Dowling Hwy.

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