Wightman's Farm review set for next Tuesday


A resolution may be in sight for a businessman's long-running hope to re-zone one of the largest pieces of open space land left on Metacom Avenue.

The Warren Town Council Tuesday night will discuss a request by Bob Avila and his family to change the zoning of his so-called Wightman's Farm land at the corner of Libby Lane and Metacom Avenue from high density residential to commercial. Mr. Avila has sought the zone change for two years; to make it happen, the council must also amend a portion of the town Comprehensive Plan's future land use map.

Mr. Avila has said he needs the re-zone to make the land marketable, though he's also submitted "conceptual" plans showing the land developed into a commercial and housing center with dozens of residences. There are two separate plans in existence, the most recent submitted earlier this fall.

The re-zone issue is controversial, and more than a dozen meetings have been held on the issue since it was first proposed two years ago. The last time the issue came before the town was in late July, when the council postponed a hearing on the matter at the request of the Avilas' attorney, Bruce Cox.

There were two reasons for the postponement. First was the Metacom Avenue Corridor Plan, a plan detailing the future of Metacom which had not been reviewed prior to the July meeting. Mr. Cox and Warren solicitor Anthony DeSisto both agreed that the council should review that proposal before taking up Wightman's, and the council agreed.

The second issue is the re-zone plan itself, which has gone through several iterations since it was first proposed. Mr. Cox argued in July that since the original plan was proposed nearly two years ago, several things have changed, including the recent purchase by Mr. Avila of a house at the intersection of Metacom Avenue and Adams Lane, a dirt track bisecting the Wightman's property that serves as the only access road for a handful of residents that live along its eastern terminus at the Kickemuit River.

Mr. Cox said that though the land on which the old house sits has been added into Mr. Avila's plans for the property, residents who only heard about the plan in its early stages may not know about it. For that reason, he said, he wanted time to alert neighbors and to continue to update Mr. Avila's plans.

Though the town council has not yet voted on the matter, another town board has. In June, the Warren Planning Board voted, via 5-4 split votes, to support both Mr. Avila's requested zone change and a corresponding change to the town Comprehensive Plan.

The meeting will be held starting at 7 p.m. at Warren Town Hall Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Wightman's Farm


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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.