Proposed Potter Pond Development has Large Footprint

By ecoRI News staff

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The third and perhaps final meeting will be held Wednesday, July 15, to determine the future of a seaside development that opponents say is too big, too burdensome on the environment and too expensive for the middle-class vacationers who summer in the one- and two-room cottages along one of the town’s distinctive salt ponds.

Developers want to turn the property into a condominium complex by replacing 12 of the single-story cottages with 13 35-foot-tall condominiums, the maximum height allowed.

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island is concerned about the increase in sewage and is urging the Zoning Board of Review to restrict the number of bedrooms and dwellings per unit. The Rhode Island Rivers Council says the new development could harm the marsh and pollute the water. The Salt Ponds Coalition says the 60 percent to 80 percent increase in the footprint of each cottage, including two-car garages and enclosed decks, gives each unit four times the original space.

Abel Collins, president of the Town Council, believes the development will push middle-class families out of the area. Other environmental groups and residents say the development should consider sea-level rise and marsh migration.

The owner the property, Jeffrey Sweenor, has argued that many of the cottages on Potter Pond are unsafe and require demolition. He bought 12 of the cottages and a mobile home for $25,000 apiece.

The Zoning Board of Review hearing will be held at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 180 High St. in Wakefield.