Town Gateway District -- Existing Conditions Before
Town Gateway District -- After Conventional Development
Town Gateway District -- Conventional Development
Guided by zoning which calls for a narrow strip of commercial/industrial development along the roadside, with residential districts behind it, development occurs in haphazard fashion as lots become available. With no where else in town to go, a variety of uses find their way here, with small-scale industrial and warehouse uses ending up next to commercial, office and retail structures. The result is a chaotic pattern of development with no focus of activity other than the traffic on the highway. With one or two curb cuts from each lots, drivers must dodge cars pulling in an out from all directions. Eventually the situation becomes so dangerous and dysfunctional that the highway needs to be widened for extra turning lanes.
Town Gateway District -- After Creative Development
Town Gateway District -- Implementation Techniques and Examples
Despite being sparsely developed, the study area is cut up by zoning and multiple ownerships into a crazy quilt of lots with varied development potential. The first step is to bring all the landowners and other stakeholders together in a planning process that combines rigorous analysis of the physical capabilities of the land with consensus building as to the advantages of the village development scheme. The next step is to enact a Planned Village Development District to coordinate growth for the entire area (see the Model Ordinances) In this case, such a district could include a very specific plan setting down locations for new roads, building setback lines, location of parks and squares, and other key features. This could be designed to follow existing lot lines, though ideally landowners would agree to combine their lots and create a mechanism for sharing revenues as the village is developed. A major issue on this site is water and sewer service; these, together with road construction, could be developed with municipal bonds or state economic development grants. Like the more familiar industrial park projects, this effort is an ideal use of such targeted infrastructure investments, and certainly a well-designed and coordinated plan is more likely to win state or federal grant money especially one with a sustainable development theme.
The project could prove problematic if it engenders so much
development in this end of West Greenwich as to create the kind
of suburban sprawl it is designed to prevent. It is thus very
important to set firm growth boundaries for the village at the
beginning of the project, beyond which a permanent greenbelt
is maintained. This process could be enhanced by the use of a
Transfer of Development Rights Ordinance, which would
allow more units to be built within the boundaries of the village
in exchange for protecting open space in the surrounding countryside.
A Note of Thanks and Credit: The creative proposal is
based on previous concepts developed by Richard Youngken of The
Newport Collaborative and Joe Lombardo as part of an earlier
study for the Town of West Greenwich.