Richmond Planning Board OKs master plan for Preserve at Boulder Hills

Richmond Planning Board OKs master plan for Preserve at Boulder Hills

The Westerly Sun
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RICHMOND — At the third in a series of public information meetings Tuesday, the Richmond Planning Board approved the master plan for Phase 2 of the Preserve at Boulder Hills. 

The two previous meetings on the proposal to expand the development were attended by scores of residents who expressed concerns about the scope of the proposed expansion  and its impact on their quality of life. No public comments were made at the final meeting.

Preserve neighbor Lisa Allen, who is a member of a residents’ group opposing the expansion, said she was too upset to attend Tuesday’s hearing.

“I just had a bad feeling about it…and I knew I couldn’t deal with it,” she said.

Purchased and extensively upgraded by developer Paul Mihailides in 2013, the Preserve is an all-inclusive, members-only sporting club that currently consists of an 18-hole golf course, residences, a clubhouse, the country’s largest indoor shooting range, and several outbuildings. 

Mihailides is now proposing to add a residential and commercial complex of 188 single-family and multifamily units, a gas station and convenience store, a day care, health club and gym, an equestrian center, two clubhouses, a helicopter landing pad, and novelty sleeping structures. 

The parcels in question, which total 752 acres, are located at 87 Kingstown Road, an unspecified address on Kingstown Road, 51 Old Switch Road, an unspecified address on Old Switch Road, and at Kenyon Hill Trail. 

The master plan was approved with a few changes. Town Planner Juliana Berry said board members are concerned about the traffic pattern on congested Route 138, specifically, a proposed curb cut that would provide a second access to the gas station.

“They’re not in favor of that direct access from the gas station onto 138, but their position could be re-evaluated upon review of the full traffic study before the next  stage of review,” she said. 

A peer-reviewed study of the overall traffic pattern will be conducted by Crossman Engineering of Warwick. Berry said the results of that study might show that the second entrance won’t cause any problems after all.

“It may be that a peer-reviewed traffic study, that even DOT agrees with, comes back as ‘we recommend that this extra entrance be there,’” she said, referring to the state Department of Transportation.

Another required change reaffirms the authority of the Planning Board to order an environmental study if the development might have a negative impact on natural resources.

“The land has copious amounts of wetlands and vernal pools and there’s three natural heritage areas and Meadow Brook is on site, and all of those habitats are often quite sensitive,” Berry said. “If you’ve got a development that’s close or encroaching, you could potentially negatively impact the species on site.”

A third condition of master plan approval was the establishment of a technical review committee consisting of Berry and representatives from the Planning Board, police and fire departments, the Zoning Board, Crossman Engineering and, possibly, the applicant. The committee would review the submission for each phase of the project as it comes in.

“Everything that’s submitted for the next phase, the technical review committee would get together and look at,” Berry said. “By having them all at the table to begin with, that means that instead of piecemeal, the applicant is receiving a streamlined set of comments. I think that it will speed things up.”

The next step in the approval process is a preliminary plan review, but because Mihailides will submit his plans in phases, there will be a review of each submission, a process Berry said could take several years.

“We could looking at years’ worth of preliminary plan reviews for each phase,” she said.



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