Council approves train station zoning, minus affordable component

Council approves train station zoning, minus affordable component

PAWTUCKET – The City Council last week agreed to the Planning Department’s request to get the ball rolling on further development of the Conant Thread District around a coming new train station. Prior to approving new zoning parameters, the council first stripped out an affordable housing component.

Councilor Tim Rudd was the lone no on the votes.

Councilor Meghan Kallman, who has been vocal about keeping the pieces of the ordinances together and considering them as one, said she was satisfied to see the “crucial” matter of affordable housing will still be considered, with a roadmap to address it this summer.

Director of Commerce Jeanne Boyle had made the request for the council to approve the majority of zoning for the district, saying the city doesn’t want to hold up or jeopardize development projects that have sensitive timelines for funding.

In addition to a 10 percent requirement for affordable housing within the TOD district, said Councilor Terry Mercer, there’s also been talk about an expanded affordable housing mandate elsewhere in the city. This is not the end of the discussion but a sort of beginning, he said.

Councilor John Barry III said he doesn’t want to see any zoning that displaces longtime residents or causes harm to the area.

The item stripped out for further considering would have required 10 percent affordable units within developments of 20 or more residential units. Affordable housing units must meet the definition of low and moderate income housing.

The council also voted to remove two properties from the zone at the request of their owners:

• The Samuel J. Ladd House LLC at 73 Park Place.

• And the William E. Coyle Jr. & Association building at 389 Main St.

The issue of promoting a mix of incomes for residents of the Conant Thread District has become a hot topic in recent weeks, as housing advocates and others have emphasized the need to avoid gentrification, or forcing out of those at lower incomes, around the coming train station.