Where there once was a house overlooking Greenwich Bay, there’s a hole for a new foundation and a mound of sandy earth at least 20 feet high. The city building department stopped work on the new home in July after the contractor demolished a wall from the old house that was supposed to be left standing. The hole could be there for a long time to come.
Following the Zoning Board of Review hearing Tuesday night, it appears the contractor and the owner of the property will either have to design a house that conforms to zoning regulations or wait until next April for a continuation of its petition for a variance of side yard setbacks. A third option would be to redesign the property with new setbacks that would require new permitting from the Coastal Resources Management Council and a new application before the Zoning Board.
Either way, David Cesario, owner of the property at 187 Charlotte Drive in Potowomut, will have to wait for his house.
That fact didn’t escape board member Richard Corley who, throughout the hearing, hammered at Joseph Palumbo, contractor for the project, and pushed for an “up or down” vote on the petition to extend variances to a new set of house designs approved in March.
When Corley saw there was sympathy to continue the hearing, he made the motion for a continuation, adding the condition that the board would not reconsider the matter until April 2014 at the earliest.
Warwick Building Official Alfred DeCorte said yesterday he is reviewing city legislation and that Cesario may be required to fill the excavation for the foundation if the matter won’t be considered until April.
The proposed house has been the subject of controversy since Palumbo, who also lives on Charlotte, and Cesario outlined the proposal to the neighborhood early this year. Questions over whether the house is too big for the lot still simmered Tuesday, but it was the fact that work proceeded when plans changed that had some people steaming.
“It seems like agreements are being broken here and it’s intentional,” said Osvaldo Monteiro.
He asked why Palumbo didn’t call the building department and inform them of changes.
“The neighbors have been duped, the building department has been duped and the board has been duped,” he charged. He said he didn’t think it proper that the contractor should now come back “and ask forgiveness.”
“We’re not asking for forgiveness. We’re here with a new application,” he said.
Palumbo reasoned the setbacks for the new application are no different than those already approved, that the house hasn’t changed.
The issue centers on foundation walls from the former house that were to have been part of the new house. Palumbo said the walls were believed to be a poured concrete but, when they got into demolition, they were found to be concrete blocks. The architect on the job found that it would not be structurally sound for the new house. In addition, Palumbo said Coastal Resources Management Council, which regulates building within the coastal feature, favored complete demolition of the former house. A septic system has been approved for the site, he said.
Gail Bell, also a resident of the area, said Palumbo “was insulting” and that the proposed house “doesn’t fit in the neighborhood.”
“They have the biggest lot,” she said of Cesario. “Good for them. They can build a good home.”
But Bell doesn’t favor a variance. She deplored other homes Palumbo has built in Potowomut on the water that are only several feet from one another.
Palumbo countered that the Cesario home would occupy 31 percent of the lot and that is in keeping with other houses on the water. Further, he said, the same square footage of living space could be achieved without variances, but to do so would result in a “boxy” structure rather than the proposed house with sloping rooflines more in keeping with the neighborhood. According to plans filed with the building department, the new house would have 5,109 square feet of living space, about three times larger than the former house.
Corley let his objections be known from the start. He suggested a public right of way to the water on the property as a show of good faith.
“When you’re ready to come back with a proper plan, I’m ready to consider,” he said.
Board Chairman Donald Morash was hoping for a compromise that would have allowed Palumbo to return with a revised plan sooner than next April. He was the lone dissenter to Corley’s motion.
<*C>Warwick Mall plans
@T_Basic:It was the lone negative vote of the evening that, among other approvals, saw approval of variances permitting outdoor seating for 40 for a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant at Warwick Mall. The restaurant will occupy the former Chelo’s and will employ 170 when operational. The mall also gained board approval for the addition of two panels – one for Buffalo Wild Wings and the restaurant Not Your Average Joe’s – to its sign.
“You have made a great comeback,” Morash told mall general partner Aram Garabedian, referring to the 2010 Pawtuxet River flood that inundated the mall. “It is not just the way it was but even better.”
TGI Friday’s Inc. likewise gained approval for a sign on Route 2. Katherine Greene and Robert Migneault’s plans to build a house with less than required side yard and rear yard setbacks on Potowomut Road was approved, as was the petition of Carolyn Dutra to build a carport to her home at 112 Stanmore Rd. and that of Brian and Julia Nadeau, of 76 Webb Ave., to remove and replace a second floor to increase the overall size of the house.