Barrington residents opposed to ‘Palmer Pointe’ gather under name

East Bay Community Development Corporation's plans for the proposed development Palmer Pointe include 50 units. East Bay Community Development Corporation's plans for the proposed development Palmer Pointe include 50 units.

Plans for a proposed development dubbed Palmer Pointe.

Plans for a proposed development dubbed Palmer Pointe.

A group of residents opposed to an affordable housing development on Sowams Road have banded together under a name.

Community Opposed to Development (COD) 02806 issued a statement last week outlining a number of concerns with “Palmer Pointe,” including the need to preserve open space, environmental concerns and potentially over-crowded roads, among other issues.

Bill Lemoult is a member of the group. He said COD 02806 volunteers collected more than 500 signatures from people protesting the project. He added that COD 02806 is a smaller committee of about 10 residents that meets on a regular basis to discuss the issue.

“Palmer Pointe” is a 48-unit development slated to be constructed by the East Bay Development Corporation on Sowams Nursery property.

Mr. Lemoult said the group’s recent document is an outline of arguments that have been made against the project by local residents, including those from Hampden Meadows.

“Most of our argument is rooted in the law and in state policy concerning the law,” Mr. Lemoult said.

Mr. LeMoult said the document is aimed at keeping the community abreast of why the group feels the project is a bad idea and ensure that all issues relating to the project are openly expressed.

To that end, Mr. Lemoult said he is pleased that the Barrington Planning Board has decided to host a pre-application meeting with EBCDC on Jan. 15 that is slated to allow comments from the public.

Here’s the group’s statement:

NIMBY

There is an inclination, in some quarters, to label with the pejorative acronym NIMBY (not in my back yard) all resistance to undesirable projects touted as a public necessity. It’s catchy. And it has been used in conjunction with the 48 unit apartment rental complex being proposed by the East Bay Community Development Corporation (EBCDC) on approximately seven acres of buildable land at the Sowams Nursery located on the Palmer River – an area currently zoned R25, i.e. no more than two residential units per acre  (R10 zoning means no more than 4 units per acre).

But the NIMBY label begs the question: Why have 517 Barrington residents (almost all living in the Hampden Meadows community) signed a petition in opposition to the plan?  In fact, there is a multitude of reasons with foundations in State law, Municipal Ordinances and Regulations, State Policy, the Town Comprehensive Community Plan, and just plain old common sense. Among these are:

- That the EBCDC, the potential owner of the property, is a Corporation subject to the same vagaries as any other Corporation, including, but not limited to, incompetence, bankruptcy, mismanagement, failure resulting from unfavorable market conditions, changes in management personnel, policies and practices, and, uniquely, adverse changes in Federal, State and/or Municipal law and regulations concerning the financing of Low and Moderate Income Housing (LMIH).

- That it is the  EBCDC’S intention to plop down in the heart of a community of densely populated, detached, single family, privately owned households (which describes the character of the entire Hampden Meadows residential community)  a 48 unit Corporate owned apartment rental complex on the  environmentally sensitive Palmer River rich with constraints to such a project affecting the ecosystem, wetlands  conservation property, overcrowded roads, the specter of a closed Massasoit Bridge, and the likelihood  for yet more traffic from a revitalized Samsonite property in Warren.  (Note:  County road, rte. 114, carries an estimated 20,000 cars per day and is intersected by both Sowams Road and New Meadow road – a mere block apart).

- That there is prospect, for all abutting landowners on both sides of the Nursery, of waking up one morning knowing that within the mere distance of Town imposed setbacks  they now have about 195 new neighbors, with cars.

- That this Corporate ownership interest (should it last so long) would, unlike the residences of the entire Hampden Meadows community,  be deed restricted for LMIH for a period of 30 to 90 years, and pay taxes, if at all, at drastically reduced rates.

- That the town of Barrington is universally acknowledged to be “built out” i.e. more than 85 percent of the land area is either already developed or unable to be developed due to physical and legal constraints.  This lends credence to the appearance that the prospective Sowams Nursery project is unwarranted and unnecessary, especially since approximately  25 percent of existing Barrington households are already low and moderate income and would qualify as LMIH except for the fact that they are not subsidized and do not have 30-90 year deed restrictions requiring that the properties remain LMIH rentals for that period of time.

- That Town Planners have done an excellent job using multiple strategies to increase the store of LMIH in ways that do not suffer from the constraints inherent in the Sowams project.  This is true in spite of a widely shared belief that achieving a goal of 10% of all Barrington residential units for LMIH is virtually impossible for the foreseeable future.  There are, however, additional prospective strategies that would be more in keeping with State and local objectives and policies.

- That there is a need to preserve whatever unprotected open space is left. The Sowams Nursery and Palmer River should not be used as sacrificial exceptions to this principle simply because the land in question is in an R10 & R25 zoned area.  On the contrary. This land should be preferred in our collective efforts to preserve and protect.

- That there would be a substantial additional economic impact on the entire town already burdened with high taxes.

- That the infrastructure support envisioned and articulated by R.I. State planners for LMIH construction simply does not exist for the Sowams project, nor will it, in spite of EBCDC insistence that it does.  The policy of the State of Rhode Island is to foster residential development in areas where there is established infrastructure, not to create, or invent,  infrastructure  for the purpose of fostering even more residential development in already densely populated residential areas.

- That the proposed development at the Sowams Nursery is completely unlike the EBCDC project at Sweetbriar on Washington Road which is located in a Business Zone and meets most of the qualifications for appropriate Siting, Density and infrastructure compatibility as promulgated by State Law and Policy.

- That there still remain many unanswered questions posed by us to the CBCDC and Town officials regarding a number of critical issues.  We will pursue these issues and report back to the community at large.  At an appropriate future time we will present to our community and Town Officials the full argument supporting a rejection of the EBCDC plan for the Sowams Nursery.

- That the Town Comprehensive Community Plan and Town Ordinances contain a much reiterated mandate to preserve and protect the unique character of the communities in Barrington and their natural resources. Community residents have justifiably placed their trust in these representations and in those vested with authority to act on their behalf.  The granting of permits allowing the proposed construction at the Sowams Nursery would constitute a violation of that trust.

COD 02806 Community Opposed to Development

 

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