Post Acute Partners

The Zoning Board has upheld the Planning Board’s decision to deny master plan approval of Post Acute Partners’ plan for an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility on the site of the former Larchwood Inn.

During a hearing Wednesday, the South Kingstown Zoning Board of Review, acting as the Planning Board of Appeals, indicated it would uphold the Planning Board's denial of the Post Acute Partners' master plan for an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility on the Larchwood Inn property, 521 Main St., Wakefield.

The vote was 3-2 with Vice Chairman Douglas Bates, and members John Bernardo and Robert Cagnetta voting against granting the appeal. The decision will be drafted and presented at the next meeting for the final vote, but there will be no additional action on this proposal, board members said.

The Planning Board approved the master plan in March 2015, but that decision was nullified because an abutter was not properly notified. The board incorporated those hearings into a new hearing and denied the master plan in July. Post Acute Partners appealed, and the Zoning Board heard the appeal in January and set a briefing schedule for February and March for lawyers for property owner Roland Fiore, developer Post Acute Partners, the Planning Board and advocacy group Preserve Wakefield.

Post Acute Partners argued the proposal met zoning ordinances, but the Planning Board denied it citing its incompatibility with the town comprehensive plan, which constituted a procedural error.

During Wednesday's hearing, during which public comment was closed, the board members explained their review of the Planning Board record and their interpretations of the weight given to zoning ordinances versus the comprehensive plan.

Bates, Bernardo and Cagnetta said the Planning Board had sufficient evidence to deny the master plan during the second round of hearings. Bates said he did not agree with the Planning Board’s ruling, but thought there was sufficient evidence for its decision. Cagnetta said additional testimony in the second hearing, and a change in board members, could have driven the change.

Cagnetta said the comprehensive plan was adopted by the Town Council and outlined a vision for future growth for the community.

Bernardo said the Planning Board was clear components of the comprehensive plan were not consistent with the submitted proposal.

Member Igor Runge disagreed, saying Post Acute Partners' application was a reasonable proposal.

“In this case there is subjectivity, relying more on what can somebody do with that property, lot size and set backs,” Runge said. “The zoning requirements seem to be in line. I find it difficult that these things were identified and unanimously approved, and then somehow during second round of talks and hearings some folks forgot or decided to look at some other things.”

Chairman Robert Toth agreed with Runge and said zoning ordinances should hold the stronger weight. He repeatedly said the weight of the evidence did not support the Planning Board decision.

For the full story, see the March 24 issue of The Independent.

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