Friday, 19 February 2021 16:36

North Smithfield Auto Body Expansion Clears Hurdle After Restoration Plan

Written by Lauren Clem, The Valley Breeze


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A project that has faced several challenges due to its proximity to the Woonsocket reservoirs was cleared for its final stage of planning review.

North Smithfield Auto Body owner Tom Whalen is seeking to expand his business at 770 Eddie Dowling Highway in North Smithfield, RI. The expansion includes a new building with 12 service bays on a neighboring lot and a new entry and exit onto Route 146.


On Feb. 11, lawyer Christian Capizzo told the planning board the owner is still seeking permits from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Due to its location near wetlands and on a state highway, the expansion will require approval from both agencies in addition to local boards.


“It’s somewhat fluid, so we had asked to get this before you while we work with DOT on the engineering as well as DEM,” Capizzo said.


In 2020, the project faced pushback from some members of the zoning board over concerns it may be located in a water supply overlay district where auto repair shops are not allowed. The board voted 4-1 to approve the project after a consultant said it was not subject to the rules of the overlay district.


Then, in the fall, it faced another setback when the RIDEM required the company to restore an area that had been disturbed during construction.


According to David D’Amico, an engineer for the project, the company had begun pre-work and excavation for the new building and was storing the material on a neighboring property when it rolled into a protected area.


“Some of the material, because of the steepness, rolled down and went into the buffer area,” he explained.


After RIDEM representatives visited the property, he said, the company agreed to a restoration plan that involved...

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