Barrington Town Council candidates talk affordable housing

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The Barrington Times will be asking candidates for Town Council and School Committee a question every week leading up to the Nov. 6 election. Candidates have a 40 word limit for responses. Here is the first question for Town Council candidates.

Would you favor a repeal or alteration of the state’s affordable housing mandate, which was enacted in 2004 and requires at least 10 percent of a community’s housing stock be affordable? 

DON NESSING — “Yes. Affordable housing brings additional costs to the town without an adequate amount of new tax revenue needed to offset the rise in expenses. Translation: Without a course correction taxes are going up and services will be cut.”

JUNE SPEAKMAN — “I would request that our state legislators and RI Housing assess the effectiveness of the statute, with emphasis on how units are labeled and counted as affordable, and whether 10 percent is a reasonable goal for built-out communities like Barrington.”

KATE WEYMOUTH — “I would favor either change, provided there is consistent ‘affordable’ housing stock available, including rentals, to allow those who serve this community the opportunity to live here. (i.e. police, firefighters, local business employees, first-step teachers, librarians and other Town workers).’”

SHIRLEY APPLEGATE-LOCKRIDGE — “I support the repeal of affordable housing mandates. Until then, towns should be encouraged to meet the need for affordable housing by rehabilitating existing stand-alone residences, not with new high density developments, allowing market forces to determine appropriate prices.”

MARGARENT KANE — “Your question implies nothing can be done WITHOUT repeal of the affordable statutes. I will challenge that the current interpretation by RI Housing, (not in the interest of Barrington taxpayers) is the right/only one. I don’t believe it is.”

ANN STRONG — “Because the current law is unduly complicated and open to conflicting interpretation, I favor repeal. Partly, the legislation encourages higher density changing the character of established neighborhoods. All this building for only 30 years of use as an income-restricted unit?”

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2 Comments

  1. GaryM said:

    Once the candidates begin to talk about this issue, then the warts of affordable housing begin to show up.

    Councilor Weymouth has been dealing with this issue for years and it appears she still does not understand the issue. She suggests we have enough affordable rentals to serve “police, firefighters, local business employees, first-step teachers, librarians and other Town workers”.

    Is affordable housing part of a new employee benefit plan? The last I looked, there were none of these people at Sweetbriar or waiting to get into Sweetbriar. Is Ms Weymouth suggesting town residents build out rentals, and then hold them open waiting for these employees to raise their hands?

    As far as our location, we are not Wyoming or Texas where employees have to drive 100 miles from job to housing.

    Further, many of the people who have to subsidize the property taxes (being less than 1/10th of the average resident tax bill), have less income than the people being subsidized.

    The warts of this program are too great for this to be a justifiable subsidy paid for by local residents.

  2. comn sense said:

    The two sitting council members haven’t done anything to try and turn this around at the state level. They know this will raise our property taxes.

    Governor Chafee has made it clear that anything that raises property taxes, he is against. So have our council members discussed this with our Governor to obtain relief? No!

    They are only pretending they support change 1 month before an election?

    Then there is the environmental impact of build out. On one hand, they discuss plastic bag impact, and on the other, they have no problem plowing under our limited open space for high density housing in a sensitive ecological area.

    This is “election speak”!

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