At Monday night's meeting, Town Council members approved a petition by Rhodes Technologies, located at 498 Washington Street, for the abandonment of Paul Street and portions of North and South streets in order to improve and beautify the unused land surrounding the company's property.
Attorney Fausto Anguilla represented Rhodes and explained to council members that the transaction would have no adverse impact to the town. The company plans to clean up and landscape the areas, making them "safer and more visually impressive and pleasing." "We see this as a benefit to the town as well as to us," he said.
The three parcels of land are currently within the perimeter of Rhodes' property and have been neglected due to lack of use in recent years. The plans would not only improve the value of the Rhodes Technologies property, but would also provide the town with additional property tax income.
When asked if the land would be available for public use, Anguilla explained that the company does have specific federal guidelines and safety concerns to abide by due to the nature of the company, making unlimited public access to the property unlikely, however he said that Rhodes is "always willing to work with the town" regarding the matter.
Before approving the petition, Town Manager Thomas Hoover suggested that the $8,150 fair market price fee be waived considering the amount of work that Rhodes will be putting into the property - upwards of $200,000. Council members approved this amendment, also.
The company's capital year runs from August to August, and although there are not funds set aside to begin the project in 2012, the plans are on the docket to be submitted for 2013, when the work is expected to begin.
Zoning Ordinance Amendments
The Council approved amendments to portions of the town Zoning Ordinance after Paul Sprague and Jacob Peabody of the Coventry Planning Department explained the need for a simpler, more user-friendly policy that would ease the calendar of the Planning Commission and allow small business ventures to happen quicker.
"The town has lost some opportunities in the past because of the long process," explained Town Manager Hoover.
According to Peabody, the changes would allow for more uses of industrial zones by expanding what types of operations could utilize the spaces, such as body shops, solar panels and even corn mazes and hayrides during the fall season.
"The changes would allow for the public to not have to visit the Zoning Board of Review as frequently," he said.
Another change may be to lessen the setback requirements for commercial buildings, enabling businesses to operate in more of a "Main Street-type setting", allowing a business' parking lot to be located behind the building, instead of strictly in the front, which is the current policy.