Drake Patten had plans to turn the long-vacant, dilapidated gas station at the corner of Broadway and Courtland Avenue on Providence’s West End into Cluck, an urban farm supply store, complete with raised beds, rainwater runoff gardens, a greenhouse and a coop with three chickens. Her vision—to sell gardening equipment, farming books, yard supplies, beekeeping products, chicken feed and, on select occasions in season, chicks and pullets. Patten’s plans were delayed due to unexpected legal woes. Despite the hundreds of Cluck supporters who signed petitions, rallied at hearings and even chipped in via Facebook to help with Cluck’s mounting legal fees, Patten’s plan continued to meet opposition from several neighbors and a nearby church. They filed appeals to Providence Zoning Board decisions, including one to “stay” her business, which can result in lengthy court proceedings, and reported Patten for zoning violations. Additionally they filed for a restraining order to prevent peddling on the property under a city-issued peddling license, which Patten obtained in order to begin selling the retail merchandise after being approved in a four-to-one vote by the zoning board. The opposition’s major concerns cited are the presence of chickens on the property, parking constraints and increased traffic. As the legal status of Cluck and its battle to open changed with each passing week through the winter and on into late May, at press time, Patten was poised to open, after a successful second trip in front of the Providence Zoning Board. Several hurdles still remain. Edible Rhody will continue to report the story as those hurdles are crossed.
—Christine Chitnis Contributor Christine Chitnis is author of Markets of New England. Visit her at ChristineChitnis.com.