Barrington Planning Board wants archaeological study at Bluemead Farm

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The Barrington Planning Board unanimously approved Bluemead Farm’s master plan submission Tuesday night though the developer will have to fund some archaeological work for the proposal to move forward.

Town planner Phil Hervey said the planning board wants a Phase I archaeological survey of the site, as recommended by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission.

The commission sent a letter advocating for the survey in November. It stated that while there is no known archaeological site within the project area, the environmental characteristics of the area and an informant who reported finding a Native American projectile point on the property indicate there is a “reasonable probability” the area is a Native American site.

In an e-mail to Mr. Hervey, commission archaeologist Charlotte Taylor said the goal of an archaeological survey is to “identify significant archaeological sites present within a project area, and if such sites are present, to mitigate any harm to them that might result from construction or other physical alteration of the property in question.”

A Phase I study, wrote Ms. Taylor, determines the presence or absence of archaeological materials and whether any part of a given project area might require additional archaeological testing. Undisturbed areas are sampled through shovel test pits. Ms. Taylor said the number of pits can vary from site to site but for Bluemead Farm, 40-60 is a good number.

Mr. Hervey said the planning board could require additional testing if there is evidence of an archaeological site, such as Phase II testing, which determines the site’s boundaries and if the area if worthy of a potential listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ms. Taylor wrote that Phase II surveys are typically more intense, requiring deeper excavations within smaller areas.

Phase III – if necessary – is a data recovery process aimed at mitigating the destruction of a site. It’s a costly and time consuming process, Ms. Taylor wrote, where archaeologists must extract a large sample to preserve information about a given area.

Bluemead Farm is a nine-lot sub-division on Chachapacasset and Beach Roads. It will include eight stand-alone homes and a duplex. All of the units will be owner-occpuied.

Mr. Hervey said the project now moves to the preliminary plan stage where the developer will provide further detail on the proposal including what the affordable units will look like, a drainage plan and a construction schedule.

Mr. Hervey said the developer also needs freshwater wetlands approval from the Coastal Resources Management Council.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.