EAST PROVIDENCE — A week after tabling a decision on the matter, leaving its response in limbo, the East Providence City Council, at its meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 20, did in fact decide to pursue an appeal of a recent Superior Court decision which went in favor of the former TLA-Pond View recycling plant owners and One Dexter Road land proprietor Kenlin Properties.The Council voted 3-2 in favor of appealing the decision to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, City Solicitor Timothy Chapman announced when the meeting moved back into open session. Councilmen James Briden and Helder Cunha were joined in their support of the appeal by Tommy Rose, who had initially voted against continuing the case. Councilmen Tracy Capobianco and Chrissy Rossi voted against the appeal.
In addition to the appeal, the Council approved the hiring of attorney Lauren E. Jones to assist the city in any upcoming legal matters in the case.
Some 28 citizens signed up to speak on the topic Tuesday night, three quarters of which voiced their opposition to the recycling business and in support of the city continuing the appellate process.
“We are are pleased with the overall vote to appeal this latest superior court decision. It is a victory for the entire city as without the appeal it would have taken complete power away from the zoning board and the zoning inspector,” said Ken Schneider, a Rumford resident and Pond View opponent.
“The vote should have been 5-0. I can’t imagine why two of the councilors voted against the future of East Providence,” he added. “Without this appeal I sincerely believe that East Providence would become the state’s second largest dump. I think we would have pond view or other companies like them knocking on the zoning door to open up dumps on any vacant land in E.P. The Council did also vote to hire outside attorneys to defend the city. This was a smart move as we need experience at this level. Pond View was taken to Supreme Court once and did lose. We believe it will be two losses soon.”
The court decision that sparked the latest twist in the years-long saga was issued by Superior Court Judge Sarah Carter-Taft on Aug. 2 and made public three days later.
Judge Carter-Taft upheld an appeal by TLA and Kenlin, deeming the East Providence Zoning Committee had overstepped in bounds in forcing TLA-Pond View to adhere to the original 150-ton per day variance and to take extra steps to clean up the facility. Several years ago, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management had upped the daily limit of construction and demolition debris TLA-Pond View could accept to 1,500 tons per day.
The City Council attempted to take up the matter at a special session called by Mr. Briden one week ago, Aug. 13, but to no avail. Originally, Mr. Rose voted with Mrs. Rossi and Mrs. Capobianco in opposition of the appeal. Mrs. Capobianco, noting the short amount of time she had to review the subject material, later switched her vote, joining Mr. Briden and Mr. Cunha to reverse the initial vote. The same trio later voted to table any decision for another week.
During the intermittent period, activists from the Rumford neighborhood where Pond View sits and supporters of the appeal lobbied both Mr. Rose and Mrs. Capobianco hard, attempting to sway them in their direction and to continue to pursue the city’s options against Pond View. Obviously, at some level at least, it worked on Mr. Rose.
“I’m business friendly. I want businesses to succeed in this city, but I also have to listen to the residents,” Mr. Rose said of his decision to change his vote. “No one’s lost their business yet. Let’s let the appeal process play out. Let the (Supreme) court decide. Once they do, so be it, then it will be done and we can finally move on.”