Concern expressed on waterfront zoning change

Proponents of maximizing public access to the waterfront around India Point Park in Providence are concerned about a City Hall meeting tonight (6 pm, council chambers) that could result in the rezoning of a key parcel in the area.

David P. Riley writes via e-mail:

The RI Transportation Dept. (RIDOT) is planning to sell the Shooters parcel -- right next to India Point Park  -- to the highest bidder with no restrictions.


 At today's hearing, supporters of the Park will urge RIDOT to delay the sale until AFTER the planning process is completed. It would be tragic for the park, the city, and the state to rush into the permanent sale of one of the state's key assets, which could be a public gateway to the Bay providing significant long-term economic and civic benefits for the region.

In a letter to Mayor Cicilline, Thom Deller, and Councilors Wood and Yurdin, Jef Nickerson, president of Greater City: Providence, writes:

I am writing on behalf of Greater City: Providence in regards to the petition being heard by the City Council Ordinance Committee on Monday, March 3rd to change the zoning of Lots 344 and 345 on Zoning Map 18 from Waterfront Mixed-Use to Public Space. These state-owned lots are located on the waterfront at Fox’s Point next to India Point Park. We submit that it is premature to consider any ad-hoc zoning changes to these waterfront lots until the highest and best use of the entire Providence waterfront is decided in a charrette format.


Please consider the following:


The aforementioned lots are part of the moratorium area established by City Council Resolution 385, approved July 10, 2007. It declares that a moratorium will be placed on any development plans, construction, or demolition permits that do not comply with the adopted Zoning Ordinance in effect as of the date of the resolution’s adoption. Any development as a result of the zoning change would not be effective due to the stipulations of the resolution until its expiration which is currently, at the latest, July 10, 2008. .... 


Further, we understand that these parcels are currently owned by the state through RIDOT and that the state is facing a (to put it lightly) tough economic year. This economic stress is surely putting great pressure on the state to sell this property. We urge the Mayor and the City Council to work with the state to attempt to find a way to transfer this land to the city, of course understanding that the city’s economic situation is not any better than the state’s this year. Allowing the city to control this land and become the eventual developer of this land would ensure that the public’s wishes as set forth by the charrette process would be fulfilled.

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