Editorial: A better Metacom

Posted 2/4/21

Warren's new Metacom Avenue Corridor Plan, which endorses extraordinary zoning change upon the tired and ugly commercial corridor, is a big step for Warren — if it is ultimately approved by the …

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Editorial: A better Metacom

Posted

Warren's new Metacom Avenue Corridor Plan, which endorses extraordinary zoning change upon the tired and ugly commercial corridor, is a big step for Warren — if it is ultimately approved by the town, and if developers and property owners come on board.

The town approval seems, anecdotally at least, like a safe bet. Planning Board members, who will be charged with reviewing it and passing on its recommendation of what to do with it to the Warren Town Council, spoke favorably of the plan at a recent meeting.

As for developers signing on, the plan's use of form-based code seems to be a good idea and has a chance of working here. The code offers design standards and pre-approved design criteria that would-be developers could use to more expediently re-develop their under-utilized parcels. If the code goes into effect here, it will give developers the assurance that if they buy in to the town's concept for the area, it will be easier and quicker to navigate approval process that can sometimes drag on for many months.

Two significant changes have recently occurred on Metacom Avenue, and each could likely be impacted by those code changes: First, developers have proposed 18 apartment units at 665 Metacom Ave. land formerly owned by attorney Robert Healey. Second, the CVS plaza, which includes the CVS building and a medical office to the north, were recently purchased for $2.8 million by a Massachusetts property management firm. An employee of the firm told the Times recently that while there are no plans to change the property at the moment, the company is watching the town's discussion of Metacom as it plans its long-term strategy.

Bringing fresh development to Metacom in a way that maximizes utility, aesthetics and convenience is essential. The road, built up in a piecemeal fashion over decades, has no consistency, very little aesthetic appeal and is not friendly to pedestrians. Town officials hope their plan will bring just those changes and usher the strip into the 21st century.

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Jim McGaw

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.