A Hummel Report Investigation
It's taken seven years - and last month's eye-opening Hummel Report investigation - for the city of Providence to take two property owners to court, after they've consistently ignored violation notices and repeated orders to stop using an illegal parking lot on the East Side. What remains unclear is why the city has been more bark than bite - and why it took our investigation to prompt court action.
As one of the primary roads in and out of the city's East Side, Gano Street sees thousands of cars every day using this ramp to Route 195. It is because of that heavy traffic the Fox Point Neighborhood Association objected a decade ago when the owner of this residential lot right next to the on-ramp began using it as a parking lot.
Schnepel: ``W had two board members who lived in the area.''
Daisy Schnepel, a founding member and past president of the association, said the group believed strongly that having a parking lot not only violated the city's zoning laws, but was dangerous for cars getting in and out of the property.
So the association took the owners, Steven Puleo and Michelle Boutin to court, where a judge agreed the zoning board had been wrong to grant a variance allowing the lot in an R-2 residential zone, something prohibited in the city's zoning ordinances.
Schnepel: ``The relocation of the highway was going to impact the neighborhood and we wanted to make sure that the neighborhood wasn't going to be ruined by the relocation.''
Schnepel said the parking lot was one of several issues the association took on at the time - during the early stages of the Route 195 relocation project - including a proposed drive through window at this Dunkin Donuts just up Gano Street.
Schnepel: ``We felt very strongly that the Gano Street exit and also the Wickenden Street exit were gateways to Providence and gateways to our community. We were concerned if there was a parking lot right next to an entrance to the highway there would be congestion and possible accidents. The spacing was bad.''
That was seven years ago. But The Hummel Report has found that within a year of the judge's ruling the city was sending the owners violation notices for continuing to use the lot for parking - without the city's permission and in defiance of the court order.