Washington County, also known as South County, cherishes its special agricultural and rural character. The intersection of routes 2 and 102 is a critical location as the gateway to South County and its planning should be approached in a comprehensive manor. The appropriate planning of this area would be a significant step in a comprehensive regional approach to preserving and enhancing the rural character and tourism potential for both towns and the South County region.
I have raised many planning concerns in the media and at public hearings in opposition to North Kingstown’s amendments to accommodate the Preserve at Rolling Greens. It will promote the continuation of suburban sprawl and commercial strip development southward along Ten Rod Road and South County Trail into Exeter and deep into South County. It preserves nothing nor is it a rural gateway!
As a member on the Stakeholders Group appointed by the NK Town Council in 2012 to consider alternative design concepts, I prepared a design concept for consideration accompanied with some preliminary graphics. That scenario was ignored. I have since further developed two scenarios now called “A Country Corner.”
It was what could’ve and should’ve been, as opposed to the Preserve at Rolling Greens. It would have preserved that area as a bona fide rural gateway and transition between Exeter and North Kingstown. Under scenario one it would allow residential development permitted by the underlying zoning and limit the commercial uses to the existing businesses. Under scenario two, the property proposed for the Preserve at Rolling Greens would have been preserved under a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) and designated as a sending area to the Post Road Corridor already designated as a receiving area. The abandoned Bald Hill Retail property could’ve been remodeled to accommodate the South County Tourism Bureau and Visitors Center and provide outdoor recreation space for the abutting residential neighborhood and host special South County events. The abutting residential areas could’ve been incorporated into a cohesive neighborhood with pedestrian and bicycle access. Just as importantly it would promote the transformation of this intersection from a high speed pass-through location to a destination location and a true gateway to South County.
The re-routing of southbound through-traffic from this intersection back to Route 4 would’ve enhanced this area as a gateway to South County as a destination location.
RIDOT could have diverted its primary southbound through-traffic away from this intersection and back to Route 4, for which its construction was intended by constructing an overpass or turnabout at Oak Hill Road and Allentown Road. This would reduce through-traffic volumes, thereby reducing the pressures of strip-mall developments and promote more destination types of development that would complement the rural character and enhance the promotion of tourism in South County.
A Country Corner is what could’ve been, and should’ve been!