On Tuesday, Oct. 5, Stonington voters will vote in a referendum to decide whether to overturn a 10-year tax abatement for a developer who proposes to build an 82-unit affordable apartment building at the end of Coggswell Street, close to the railroad tracks.
I urge everyone to vote yes to overturn this tax break because of the impact it will have on area traffic and parking. As longtime Pawcatuck residents, my husband and I drive on West Broad Street (Route 1) past Coggswell Street into Westerly every day. We know how bad traffic can be at that intersection and how Route 1 traffic may come to a standstill, backing up well into Pawcatuck. These conditions are not limited to summer months. It seems incomprehensible that Town Hall would back such a large project, one that would add more vehicles entering into some of the heaviest traffic in town outside Mystic.
The developer has allotted only 93 parking spaces for 82 apartments. Parking is already limited in this area. Customers of local businesses will find themselves competing for spaces with spouses, partners, roommates and guests of the new residents. This project is supposed to help area businesses but it will hurt them, as on-street spaces and private lots fill up with extra vehicles from the development.
I’m concerned about the developer’s plans for changes to parking and traffic. Their Traffic Impact Study cites cars parked on either corner of the intersection of Coggswell Street and Route 1 as a cause of reduced sight distances for vehicles turning from Coggswell in either direction. They propose to add a left-turn lane on the eastbound side of Route 1 and restripe the road to allow for the new lane. I’m concerned that these changes may necessitate a reduction in the number of area parking spaces. They claim that “improvements” will allow them to retain overall parking but I don’t believe them. Their traffic study is invalid. It was conducted in 2020 during the pandemic, while Rhode Island beaches were closed. Schools were closed and business was way down in 2020, so I don’t believe their numbers. They need to redo their traffic study.
Coggswell Street is a narrow side street. I can’t imagine how a school bus or two-way traffic can proceed to and from this development if on-street parking continues there.
Stonington needs more affordable housing but this project is too big for this location. Cut it in half or find a new location — anywhere but here!
In the meantime, I urge everyone to drive down Coggswell Street more than once. Try turning left from Coggswell onto Route 1 in the late afternoon. Drive into Westerly and return, heading west with the sun in your eyes while watching for pedestrians and imagine traffic coming out of Coggswell Street.
Pawcatuck residents know exactly what I’m talking about. Vote yes on Oct. 5 to overturn this developer’s tax break.