DeStefanis seeks potential challenge to Honey Dew approval

DeStefanis seeks potential challenge to Honey Dew approval

The site of the planned new Honey Dew Donuts across from Stop & Shop on Mineral Spring Avenue. North Providence Councilor Raymond DeStefanis is requesting the approval of the new business at such a congested intersection.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The Town Council has taken a rare first step toward potentially challenging decisions made by other municipal boards. The approvals in question relate to votes to allow construction of a Honey Dew Donuts at 1113 Mineral Spring Ave.

Councilor Raymond DeStefanis, whose District 2 contains the Marieville property, made the request on Feb. 6 that the council’s finance committee review “what it would cost or take to potentially appeal this.”

Officials are declining to address specific statements from DeStefanis until after they receive a specific complaint.

DeStefanis and Marieville residents have complained that the planned Honey Dew coffee shop will further clog traffic in an area that’s already one of the busiest and congested in town, creating a new safety hazard. The site is at the corner of Cooper Street, across from the entrance to Stop & Shop.

DeStefanis said he respects the work of the North Providence Planning Board and Zoning Board, but is questioning how the boards come to some of their decisions regarding the proposal. He said he agrees with many of his constituents that the Honey Dew store should not have been approved for this location.

The finance subcommittee DeStefanis leads will continue to investigate the situation to determine whether to recommend that the full council appeal the decision, said DeStefanis.

Though the time to appeal a January approval appears to be past, said DeStefanis, he said an attorney has advised him that “anything can be appealed.”

Officials have done a great job over the past three years bringing new businesses into town and help them succeed, said DeStefanis, and he appreciates applicant J. Beresford Tipton Trust and owner Churchill and Banks Holdings attempting to redevelop an old commercial building. What he doesn’t agree with, he said, is that what he considers to be a fast food restaurant would be located in a commercial village zone.

The CV zone is meant for smaller commercial establishments serving neighborhoods, said DeStefanis, and the zone does not permit fast food restaurants.

The town’s zoning ordinance adds a bit of a question in stating that CV zone uses are different from those on Mineral Spring Avenue, where the Honey Dew DeStefanis is questioning is located.

“The district will have uses that are different in scale from those found on Mineral Spring Avenue,” states the section on the CV zone. “Uses that are not permitted are fast food restaurants, repair stations, and other large super store type businesses. The intent of this zone is to protect the surrounding residential neighborhoods, limit the amount of traffic on existing streets and prevent urban sprawl.”

DeStefanis said he wants to know how officials determined that Honey Dew was a retail bakery, as called for in early plans, despite the proposed facility not having any proposed baking operations on site. The town’s comprehensive plan really doesn’t define what a bakery or fast food are, he said, other than to state that a bakery produces and sells flour-based food from an oven, and to say that fast food is prepared quickly and easily and sold in restaurants as a quick meal or to be taken out.

He said he wonders how officials approved a special variance for a drive-through window for something that’s supposed to fit in with the CV zone.

“In my opinion, it’s fast food,” he said, adding that he doesn’t agree with the direction the boards went.

Also of concern, he said, was that basic items such as a pedestrian safety study for entrances and exits were not completed.

More than planners and zoning officials themselves, said DeStefanis, “I blame the guidance that they’re provided.”

Town Planner David Westcott told The Breeze by email that the appeal process is “enshrined in local, state and federal law and I support the right of any aggrieved party to appeal a decision by the zoning officer, Zoning Board or the Planning Board.”

That’s why there’s an appeal period extending 20 days after the official recording of any decision, he said.

“That being said, the exact details about who would be appealing what decision of which authority and on what grounds were not really made clear to me from the discussion at the Town Council meeting,” he said.

“That makes it hard for me to offer substantive comment. If a timely appeal is filed identifying the aggrieved party, indicating which specific decision(s) are being appealed, and providing some basis for appeal, then I would be in a much better position to comment.”

Whether an aggrieved party is within the 20-day limit to appeal depends on which decision they’re appealing, said Westcott.

A zoning certification for the project was approved last August, the Planning Board approved a master plan last September, the Zoning Board approved a special use permit for the drive-through last October, and the Planning Board approved a preliminary plan Jan. 14. Westcott recorded the preliminary plan approval on Jan. 24.

Planning Board Chairman Peter Iacobucci echoed Westcott’s stance, saying he doesn’t think it’s “prudent or proper to comment” unless more specific information is provided.

Comments

It is refreshing to see when a town official has the conviction to challenge the decision of another town entity when there is an obvious (at least in my mind) poor lack of judgement made in rendering a decision concerning the Honey Dew request.
There is already far too much traffic congestion at this juncture. The Planning Board members need to investigate and review this decision more closely.

I agree with Ray DeStefanis’ stand against the Honey Dew going up in such an already-busy location on Mineral Spring Avenue. However, why didn’t he stand up to the mayor when he presented his plan to put up an unneeded Safety Complex across from the high school on Mineral spring Avenue. An even more serious issue of further clogging traffic in an area congested on Mineral Spring, ie beteen 7am and 7:30 am and at 2pm dismissal is a given and poses ongoing safety risks. Why did no one on the council stand up to the mayor on this???? How could this potential safety issue be ignored??? It’s great that Ray is looking out for that area of Mineral Spring but I, as well as many other tax payers, cannot understand how the mayor was allowed to move forward with the building of this complex and at the same time, get a rubber stamp from the council. This is where the council should have been putting up a challenge!!!

Catanzaro tried to stop it. However because the Mayor is Public Safety Director, and the Google money was ear marked for the police department only, the town council gave the Mayor full authority to spend the Google money any way he wanted. That's the sorry fact of the money and the Lombardi Public Safety Complex.