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UPDATED: City Plan Commission Meeting – September 16, 2014

featured-bikeped City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from the August 19th meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

City Council Referral

1. Referral 3382 – Petition to abandon a portion of Stanhope Street – The applicant intends to abandon the portion of Stanhope Street adjacent to AP 97 Lot 12 to add to the area of the lot – for action (Charles)

The Orange Street abandonment has been removed from the CPC Agenda.

orange-street

Orange Street from Weybosset Street. Image from Google Street View

2. Referral 3384 – Petition to abandon a portion of Orange Street – The applicant intends to abandon the portion of Orange Street located between Weybosset and Middle Street and between AP 20 lots 131 and 135 – for action (Downtown)

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News & Notes

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Bloomberg: Icahn Urges Family Dollar CEO to Seek Sale ‘Immediately’

The retailer has been struggling to compete with rival discounters, drugstores and big-box retailers such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. To combat slumping sales, Family Dollar embarked on a review of its business this year. As part of its turnaround plan, the company is closing about 370 underperforming stores and opening fewer new ones. It’s also lowering prices in a bid to entice shoppers.

‘Consistently Underperformed’

Family Dollar has “consistently underperformed its peers” in same-store sales, total revenue growth, sales per store, sales per square foot, operating margins and capital-structure efficiency, Icahn wrote in the letter, which opened by remarking on the “cordial nature” of the previous night’s discussion.

Meanwhile, in Providence we’re throwing out our zoning regulations to accomodate the “proven business model” of this “consistently underperforming” retailer. Olneyville risks ending up with an empty big box more craptacular than the building that was torn down to make way for it.

Providence Business News: Solomon proposes citywide 15-year tax stabilization plan

“I want to send a loud and clear message to the development community that Providence is open for business,” Solomon said in the news release. “If we don’t bring certainty to this process we are losing a once in a lifetime opportunity to grow our tax base, grow our population and create much needed jobs. I plan to reach out to the developers who have expressed frustration with the process to assure them my plan will remove the politics and uncertainty that has plagued this city for far too long.”

The new system would be based on recommendations issued earlier this year by an economic development task force formed by the city council partly in response to the continued vacancy of the Industrial Trust building.

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News & Notes

Highway

Photo (cc) Count Rushmore

News & Notes Will pay-per-mile be a buzzkill for American road trips? [CNN]

During the next 20 years, projections show average vehicle fuel efficiency nearly doubling.

Revenues from the fuel tax will be slashed by half, according to the Iowa study.

Meanwhile, the cost of safe roads, bridges and transit systems will skyrocket. By 2020, says the American Society of Engineers, the price tag could be as high as $1.7 trillion.

Bottom line: two cents per mile would be enough to pay for the nation’s transportation infrastructure needs. That’s according to a 2009 nonpartisan commission headed by two former U.S. transportation secretaries.


Bring Back the Rooming House? [CitiWire]

Is it time to restore the old-fashioned rooming house – or something akin to it – in America’s cities?

Candidate strategies for more compact urban housing units abound. Smith suggests, for example, basement or attic flats that use the “excess” space in larger homes in which an aging homeowner wants to remain but has rooms that are idle and chores that need to be done. “A bargain can be struck,” he suggests, with a younger tenant who pays reduced rent in exchange for upkeep and light maintenance. The net result: “to turn an over-housed, under-maintained single-family dwelling into a multi-household home that benefits both parties.”


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Amtrak’s Next-Gen High Speed Rail vision by-passes Providence

Update 07/11/2012: Amtrak has released an updated vision for the Northeast Corridor which happily does not by-pass Providence. Read the report. (.pdf)

Amtrak released A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor [.pdf] today. The Vision is as of yet unfunded, would not be complete until 2040, and the alignment analyzed for this report would by-pass Providence (there’d be a station in Woonsocket though).

A number of possible alignments were initially analyzed for their potential to meet these goals.

New York City to Boston

In the New York City-to-Boston segment, the study team examined a variety of potential alignments, including a “Shore Alignment” paralleling the existing NEC; a “Long Island Alignment” heading east of out New York and traversing Long Island Sound; and “Highway” alignments paralleling all or portions of major interstate highways, including I-84, I-90 and I-91, through Connecticut and Massachusetts. It is important to note that virtually all of the alignments considered pose a variety of construction and environmental challenges. It was beyond the scope of this study to analyze all potential alignments in significant detail. However, a representative alignment was chosen for analytical and costing purposes. This “Analyzed Alignment,” as shown in the figure, parallels the existing NEC from New York to just north of New Rochelle, then follows a combination of highway, rail and overland routes through Connecticut and Massachusetts, before rejoining the existing NEC south of Rt. 128 in Massachusetts and paralleling it into Boston. A route substantially paralleling the existing NEC between Boston and New York was not chosen for initial analytical purposes because of a combination of capacity constraints on MetroNorth’s New Haven Line between New Haven and New Rochelle. Curvature restrictions and design requirements to meet environmental concerns on the Amtrak-owned “Shore Line” from the Massachusetts state line to New Haven would make it extremely difficult to meet the travel time targets of approximately one hour and 30 minute service.

Now, this is a preliminary report, and nothing has been engineered or officially picked yet, so it is not exactly time to panic about being bypassed. Also, this is a plan for a 240mph corridor between Boston, (Woonsocket??), New York, and Washington, plus other cities; highspeed rail of somesort, just not as fast, would still run between Boston, Providence, New Haven, and New York City.


Pink and green lines, new Next-Gen Highspeed rail, service Bos-DC in under 4 hours. Blue line, existing regional and Acela routing. Yellow line, Next-Gen route, Acela-like speeds Boston to NYC (stopping in Providence) and Next-Gen speed south of NYC.

However, it is never too soon for our Governor, Mayor, Congressional Delegation, and everyone else to start working to ensure that we’re on that line.

If the highspeed line were routed south to Providence then west to Hartford it would finally establish the mythical Providence-Hartford connection that was canceled out of the Interstate Highway plan.

Thinking about how a line to Hartford would branch off our current section of the Northeast Corridor (presuming that the existing Providence Station would be our highspeed rail station), a branch along Route 6 out of Olneyville makes sense as the starting point for the Providence-Hartford line. This Next-Gen Highspeed route is still 30 years from reality, but we should not do anything now to preclude it. As we look toward re-engineering the 6/10 interchange for example.

Nothing against Woonsocket, but if we’re going to lay new track (which is what this plan calls for) between Boston and Hartford, it would be ridiculous for it to serve Woonsocket, but not Providence.

View the entire report here. [.pdf]

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Turning downtowns into suburbia

Christopher T. McCahill and Norman Garrick look at how land use devoted to parking may turn our downtowns into a sort of office park in the city. Case in point, Hartford.

At the Travelers Companies, Inc. – an insurance company in the downtown where employees are charged between 70 and 125 dollars per month for parking – only 71 percent of employees choose to drive alone to work. In contrast, at enterprises where employee parking is free and ample (including the both the city and the state government offices in Downtown), between 83 and 95 percent drive alone to work.

Read more at Planetizen.

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Stimulating


Photo (cc) Daniel Case

RIDOT is getting $1.2 million from the stimulus to study a third track at Kingston Station. The third track would provide a siding, allowing MBTA commuter rail trains to serve the station while highspeed Acela trains are able to move through without stopping.

However, though we are getting stimulus love for Kingston Station, New England gets the shaft on the $8 billion federal high speed rail stimulus porgram. New England is getting under $200 million dollars or about 2% of the total funds.

Massachusetts really lost out, no money for New Bedford/Fall River commuter rail, no money for the “inland route” which would have upgrade tracks between Boston and Springfield and improved service on the Worcester commuter rail line, and no money for the $1.9 billion north/south rail link in Downtown Boston (that last one is no surprise, no one wants to open the PR pandora’s box of spending more federal money in the Central Artery corridor post-Big Dig).

New England did get money to move forward on improvements in the New Haven – Hartford – Springfield – Vermont corridor, and to expand Amtrak’s Downeaster service north from Portland to Brunswick, Maine.

New England receives 2 percent of high-speed rail funds [Boston.com]
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City Plan Commission Meeting (01/19)

PROVIDENCE CITY PLAN COMMISSION NOTICE OF REGULAR MEETING
TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2010 4:45 PM

Department of Planning and Development, 4th Floor Auditorium 400 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

OPENING SESSION

Call to Order
Roll Call
Approval of Meeting Minutes: December 1st and 15th, 2009
Approval of the CPC meeting schedule for the 2010 calendar year
Designation of Recording Secretary

CITY COUNCIL REFERRAL


View Larger Map

1. Referral 3321 – Petition to abandon a portion of Penrose Avenue
Petition to abandon the unimproved portion of Penrose Avenue. (Blackstone)

LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT


View Larger Map

2. Case No. 09-050MA – 395 Promenade Street (Master Plan Approval)
The applicant is seeking Master Plan Approval to reuse approximately 2,600 SF of the southwest portion of an existing 2 story building and construct a new 23,000 SF one story laboratory building. The building will be used as a blood bank. Onsite parking will be provided. The property abuts Promenade and Bath Streets. (AP 67 Lots 341, 522 and 523) (Smith Hill)

The applicant has requested that this item be continued to the February 23, 2010 meeting.

PROVIDENCE TOMORROW

3. College Hill, Wayland & Fox Point Neighborhood Plan
Continuation of the discussion between Commission members and staff regarding the development potential of the “Shooters” site based on the approved neighborhood plan. The discussion will also address the legal issues surrounding downzoning the site. No additional public comment will be taken.

4. Neighborhood Plan Presentations
Presentation of the West End/Federal Hill/ Reservoir, Charles/Wanskuck and Hartford/Manton/Silver Lake neighborhood plans by DPD staff. The plans will be reviewed by the Commission and public comment will be taken. The Commission may choose to act to adopt one or more of the neighborhood plans presented.

ADJOURNMENT

Agenda

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