standing Charlestown Town Hall

CHARLESTOWN — After several months of hearings and seven continuances, Storage Place LLC has withdrawn its application to build a self storage facility on Route 1.

At a public hearing Wednesday on the master plan, Steven Surdut, the attorney representing the developer, told the Planning Commission that his client would not pursue approvals to build on Route 1 but would choose another building site, as yet unnamed, in the town.

“At this time, we are going to be withdrawing the application for this location,” he said. “In the future, we do plan to come back before the board with what we believe is a more appropriate location.”

Storage Place had proposed to build the self storage facility on property purchased from Charlestown Willows Inc. The project, consisting of two 15,000-square foot units fronting Route 1, would have been built on 2.8 acres of property which lies in a flood zone. The plan called for elevating the site by 1 foot at the road and by 6 feet at the rear of the lot where it slopes to the water, with fill trucked to the site.

Residents of the Foster Cove neighborhood, which lies down the slope from the proposed project, objected to the plan, citing the risk of pollution of their drinking water wells. Several residents also questioned whether the commercial facility would be appropriate on a section of Route 1 that has been designated by the State of Rhode Island as a scenic roadway.

Surdut noted that his client would have notified the commission sooner of his intent, however the decision to withdraw the application had been a recent one.

“The applicant and myself, we know that the board does not take these things lightly and invested a lot of time and energy in this application,” he said. “Would I have been able to tell you earlier, I would have. We were diligently trying to address this…We’ve also spoken with neighbors and other members of the community and believe overall that the application that we will be presenting in the future will be a better fit for the town as well as the applicant.”

The commission voted unanimously to accept the withdrawal of the application.

Foster Cove homeowners and other concerned residents have been sitting through months of Planning Commission hearings, with one resident, Charles Carvette, hiring  attorney Christopher D’Ovidio to fight the proposal.

D’Ovidio said he was pleased with the developer’s decision to abandon the proposal.

“Not all oppositions are successful, but this was one that was in our favor and I’m very happy for the client and the neighboring community,” he said. “I think it was ultimately the right way this project ended up, their withdrawal, and it certainly could have been a denial from the Planning Commission, so we’re happy with that, of course.”

D’Ovidio said the lengthy process, with its many continuances, had been a costly one for his client.

“My client and the neighbors, certainly, expended quite a bit of resources, time and otherwise, in this whole process and certainly the Planning Commission did as well, but sometimes it happens that way,” he said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to be in it for the marathon.”

As they left the hearing, Foster Cove residents Tim Kane and Russ Fisher said they were relieved that the Route 1 proposal was dead.

“I think it’s a good move on behalf of the applicant,” Kane said. “…I think it’s the right move and as far as we’re concerned, everything went the right direction today.”

“We wish him well,” Fisher added. “They’ll find another location and maybe it’ll be more appropriate. I think it will.”

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