Warren residents speak out against new affordable housing project

At least 25% of the units (i.e., at least five units) will be “low- and moderate-income” housing. A representative for the project said 15 of the 17 units are expected to be considered “affordable”.

The buildings are owned by Daniel Teodoro, who also owns the adjacent Waterdog Kitchen & Bar. Teodoro did not return Globe for comment or provide more information on the affordability of the units.

Zoning laws will require the project to include 39 parking spaces; 26 spaces for 17 units and 13 spaces for commercial space. However, Teodoro is seeking a size difference as the proposed development includes a 24-space car park.

During the public comment period, some residents argued that the property’s future residents would still need parking spaces and that the building could increase traffic in the area, while others said the development did not fit the “character” of the neighborhood.

Aerial view of the proposed project at 119 Water St.ZDS Corporation

John C. Healey, who has lived in Warren all his life, said he saw a flyer he received about the proposed development “and thought it was a joke.”

“I’m totally against … the height of the building,” Healy said. “There’s too much development on Water Street, not enough parking spaces … and we continue to make it worse.”

Former planning committee member and former city councillor Steven Thompson said the height difference was “excessive” and members should align with previous rulings.

The proposed project will be reviewed again at the next committee meeting in October. twenty four.

Other testimonies expressed outrage that the proposed development would destroy two buildings in the town’s historic district. Erin Collins, chair of the Warren Preservation Society’s board of directors, said the planning committee shouldn’t lightly approve the razing of a historic building.

“Requesting demolition…anywhere in the area is an issue that needs to be addressed,” she said. Collins said the association was willing to hire a conservation expert to conduct a cost analysis study before the structure was demolished. Planning chairman Frederick Massey said it was up to the owners to decide.

Existing buildings at 113 and 119 Water St. in Warren, RIhandout

Only the existing structure at 119 Water St. Inscribed on the National Register of Historic Places. Repairing the existing structure will cost nearly $932,000, according to estimates by Providence-based construction firm ZDS Inc. and Middletown-based construction firm J2Construct Inc.

Teodoro underwent a field review of the existing property’s basement by Structures Engineering and Design in Burrillville. In a letter to Teodoro from Structures principal Jeremy J. Page, the basement walls and floor framing were “in poor condition.”

News of the proposal comes as Rhode Island is experiencing an increase in homelessness, driven by a lack of housing stock at all income levels.

Rhode Island law requires 10 percent of the yearly housing in each town to be in low- and moderate-income housing. But only 4.23 percent of homes in Warren are considered “affordable” as of 2021, down from 4.49 percent in 2020, said Bob Ruley, director of planning and community development in Warren. One group home was closed, which is why the number of affordable units dwindled, Ruley said.

“Police, teachers, emergency medical responders … these are the categories of people who can’t afford to live in Warren,” Rulli said of 80 percent of Warren’s districts with a median income of $79,690 a year, which is higher than many Town employees earn money.

In Warren, the income needed for the average two-bedroom also increased by more than 17% in a year, from $65,280 to $78,920 in 2021.

Ruley said he testified before the Rhode Island Low- and Moderate-Income Housing Act Research Select Legislative Committee in December 2021, but said “no one” has reached out to see what Warren is doing to meet the state’s concerns about the economy Room requirements apply.

“I don’t want to rely on Rhode Island to help us with this,” Rueley said of meeting the 10 percent minimum. The town will complete its housing complex by November or December, he said.

“This application (the proposed Water Street development) complies with the requirements of an existing state statue,” Rulli added. And “this is not a Section 8 project.”

While some residents said they agreed that more affordable housing needed to be built in Warren, they opposed the project. Resident Roka Francis said the town should not approve the development “only” to meet its affordable housing needs.

Resident Leslie Hartwell said: “This is the beginning of the end… The next time the house is ‘out of repair’ the developer can come in and do something that’s not part of the Water Street tradition.”

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz @AlexaGagosz on Instagram.

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