SOUTH KINGSTOWN — The Zoning Board will hold a new public hearing regarding a proposal to demolish 12 cottages at the Pointe at East Matunuck site and build 12 larger, flood-code compliant cottages there, after the applicants expressed a desire to change that proposal.
Two Zoning Board members have recused themselves from any future vote regarding the proposal, after property owner The Pointe at East Matunuck LLC and developer Jeff Sweenor filed a complaint in state Superior Court. The Aug. 7 complaint asked for a temporary restraining order requiring Stephanie Osborn and Robert Cagnetta to recuse themselves, claiming they showed bias. On Aug. 11, Superior Court Associate Justice Stephen P. Nugent ordered Osborn to do so. Osborn had voiced opposition to the project at a Planning Board hearing in May, before the application came before the Zoning Board.
“I feel very strongly that I have not been biased. However, I must honor what the judge [ordered],” Osborn said at the Zoning Board’s Aug. 19 meeting. “I have never seen a situation like this. I have never been biased.”
Nugent had scheduled a hearing regarding Cagnetta’s vote after the Aug. 19 meeting, but Cagnetta said he would choose to recuse himself to avoid further litigation.
“I have not brought my own views to the board,” Cagnetta said at the Board’s Aug. 19 meeting. “I have followed [town] zoning laws.”
In place of Osborn and Cagnetta, Zoning Board alternates John Bernardo and Richard Jurczak will vote on the proposal at the board’s Sept. 16 meeting.
The Pointe was part of Wakamo Park, a seasonal land-lease community off Succotash Road, that juts into Potter Pond and has expansive views of it and Block Island Sound. The Pointe at East Matunuck LLC purchased the 9.22-acre property for $2.7 million in January 2014.
At the time of purchase, there were 14 cottages and two manufactured homes there; Sweenor previously proposed to tear down and replace 12 of them. Donald Packer, Sweenor’s lawyer, along with a team of architects and experts, said the existing cottages need to be rebuilt to conform with flood codes and to protect the structures against predicted sea level rise. The new one-story, upscale cottages would have ranged from 750 to 1,000 square feet, and would have been one or two bedrooms each. On July 15, the board voted 3-2 to deny that original proposal. Board members Cagnetta, Osborn and Igor Runge voted to deny; Chairman Robert Toth and Douglas Bates voted against the denial. Board members against the proposal said it would “change the character of the area.”