Former mill property on the market for $250K

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BURRILLVILLE – A once majestic mill complex that’s sat vacant and crumbling for decades is up for sale, with the owner asking $250,000 for a 32.7-acre property that holds the former Ross Mill.

A listing for the former industrial lot at 65 Mill Street notes the property could be used for affordable housing or standard subdivision development with town approvals.

Named after John L. Ross, who purchased seven acres of land in what is now the village of Oakland in 1848, the Ross Mill was initially leased to the Woonsocket Delaine Company as a worsted goods factory, according to records in the Pascoag Herald. Ross first built a dam across the Branch River and in 1950, constructed the original three-story factory building. In 1853, he took over the facilities himself to manufacture cotton yarns and satinet.

The entrepreneur put on several additions in the years that followed, and eventually, houses were added for laborers and their families, some of which still remain in the village. Over the years, the mill changed ownership numerous times and produced everything from woolen goods and yarn to hosiery and textiles.

While it’s unclear when it closed, local historians Betty and Carlo Mencucci told NRI NOW there was a fire on the property in 1977.

In the years since, remnants of the structure’s former life have remained in state of continued decay, with floors caving and roofs collapsing. A vast skeleton of the former mill features falling bricks and crumbling walls and in recent years, a smoke stack that towered over the landscape also collapsed.

Although the structure is on private property, numerous tourist blogs have noted the surprising beauty of the abandoned site, which offers a glimpse into Burrillville’s industrial past.

Town property records assess the value at $108,000, listing the owner as Charles Cove of Providence. Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management documents state that Cove took title of the lot in 1973.

Cove has received several notices of violation on the property from the RIDEM dating back to 1985, when he was cited for altering fresh water wetlands. In 2001, the agency received a complaint concerning the presence of oil on the Branch River that was traced to the property. Emergency remedial measure were taken and multiple fuel oil tanks, including underground storage tanks were removed, and Cove was fined more than $48,000 for infractions that included release of petroleum products into waters, disposal of solid waste and maintaining underground tanks in an abandoned state.

Cove and his business Cove Metal Co. were released from the violations in a notice from RIDEM earlier this year, effectively clearing the encumbrance from the property’s title.

Town Planner Ray Goff told NRI NOW that he believes remediation of the property was completed many years ago, and that the releases may have only been filed recently due to an oversight.

The property went on the market in February, listed by Jessica Azarian of Right Place At The Right Time Realty in Pawtucket.

Editor’s note: The above article has been edited to include input from the town planner.

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