Asphalt Piles Remain Along Providence Waterfront Month After Paving Company Denied Zoning Variance
November 15, 2021
PROVIDENCE — For three years, a paving manufacturing company operated out of the Port of Providence without the required zoning variance. Now, a month after the company was denied a use variance, it shows no signs of moving on.
On Oct. 13, the Zoning Board of Review unanimously denied a variance request from the Narragansett Improvement Co. to store and process concrete, stone, aggregate, and asphalt on the leased site, which is zoned for maritime industrial use. As of mid-November, large piles of asphalt still marked the 338 Allens Ave. site.
Michael Resnick, the Providence-based attorney representing the Narragansett Improvement Co., declined a request for comment from ecoRI News. Emily Pickering, spokesperson for property owner Cumberland Farms Inc., also declined to comment on the matter and their lessee’s use of the site.
When asked for comment on the variance request and the company’s continued operation, Tim Rondeau, director of communications at the city’s Department of Planning and Development, indicated the matter was subject to pending litigation.
“I cannot comment further at this time,” Rondeau told ecoRI News.
At last month’s public hearing, Resnick said the company sought a temporary variance permit as the property is set to be sold by Cumberland Farms within the year — though no evidence of the sale was provided to the board and Pickering declined to comment on the site’s future.
When told by the board that variance permits were not issued on a temporary basis, Resnick suggested “the only people that get to say that is the Rhode Island Supreme Court, and they’ve never stated anything on the subject.”
“If you want to go make law in the Supreme Court, that’s fine, but this board does not make new law … it can only apply the law as written,” senior assistant city solicitor Lisa Dinerman said at the meeting before the board denied the variance.
James Crowley, a staff attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation, issued a public comment Oct. 13 on the organization’s behalf requesting the zoning board deny the application on the basis that it met none of the five requirements necessary for a use variance. He said he believed the variance denial was “correctly decided” by the board.
Narraganset Improvement Co. could technically appeal the Zoning Board of Review’s decision, according to Crowley. But, he said, “I think they would have a very, very hard time succeeding in that” as the variance requirements remain unmet and the system is not set up to issue temporary variances.
As of Nov. 15, no litigation had been filed with the Providence County Superior Court on Narragansett Improvement Co.’s behalf.