Frerichs flip-flops on Warren tree ordinance

To the editor:

Last week’s Town Council meeting, during which the voluntary tree ordinance was defeated by a 3-2 vote, was hardly a profile in courage for Town Council Vice President David Frerichs. A farmer and self-proclaimed conservationist who served for 12 years on the Warren Conservation Commission, Mr. Frerichs backpedaled and helped kill an ordinance that would have furthered the values he claims to hold dear.

At September’s town council meeting, Mr. Frerichs was the decisive third vote allowing the tree ordinance to advance to a crucial second reading. However, this month he flip-flopped and succumbed to what must have been intense pressure from colleagues. Ironically, at the latest town council meeting his was the deciding vote to kill the ordinance, a proposed voluntary designation to help the town protect trees in Warren. Mr. Frerichs says he deeply cares about these assets in our community, leaving one to wonder what has occurred in the last month to make him no longer care.

In what was at best weak rationale, Mr. Frerichs read prepared remarks stating “it sounds like we’re creating a forestry division,” and “I think it would be problematic if someone who wasn’t in the town circle was head of the tree warden spot.” It’s a stretch in even the most extreme of circumstances to describe the proposal as a forestry division. Furthermore, why is it such a problem if a potential tree warden isn’t in the “town circle”?  This sounds to me like more of an old town politics concern as opposed to a legitimate issue.

I was surprised with Mr. Frerichs’ performance, because in prior meetings he supported the ordinance and was the key vote in allowing it to advance. This raises an interesting question: Did Mr. Frerichs take easy votes to appease people, with the intent of ultimately killing the ordinance?

At the least, Mr. Frerichs owes the tree commission and people of Warren an explanation. Why, if he had these deep-seated concerns, did he vote to move the ordinance to a second reading? Why didn’t he make clear his specific objections and offer suggestions in September that would make the ordinance something he could support. He repeatedly said on the record that he cares about trees and their protection. So what, or who, happened between September and October?

Warren needs a town council that is decisive, progressive and non-partisan. Mr. Frerichs’ actions on this matter did not reflect these ideals.

Steve Thompson

Broad Street

 

4 Comments

  1. Newwarren said:

    I am consistently dismayed at the town’s inability to take steps that prevent any protection of Warrens assets. Its almost as if they are in office to keep any positive change from happening. Two of our progressive councilors, Scott Lial and Joseph DePasquale consistently get outvoted 3-2 on anything that God forbid will make positive change. Whats the plan to make Warren a more attractive place to live and do business? Could we start with saving our oldest and most beautiful trees or creating design guidelines to save our historic architecture, how about minimum housing enforcement, maybe more speed enforcement along with a noise ordinance. Who are we catering to, the slum lords that don’t have to follow any rules, who consistently rent to drug dealers? Stop putting out fires and get something done!

    • RightInRI1 said:

      You can concentrate on trees all you want to make Warren ” a more attractive place to live and do business”…but if you don’t start by taking a look at the human element that’s moving into town it’s not going to matter. This town is not being destroyed by people cutting trees down ! It’s being financially & humanly gutted out by folks moving in from out of town due to our more affordable rents and whatever other deals are being made to third party institutions to provide housing for people. Take a look beyond your tree leaf colored glasses and you will see….this is not what real true Warrenites or the councilors should be spending time on. Keep sticking your heads in the sand…or the tree dirt…or the plastic bags we can still use….for now.

  2. Newwarren said:

    The tree ordinance is indicative of the lack of actions taken by a majority of our TC . You don’t seem to understand that a well presented town that have a together appearance draw a better renter to the area. Investors love towns like Warren because we hold them to zero standards. Come on in -the more cash for gold the better, the gun store was one step away from locating here except for a very outspoken zoning board member saying no even though our ordinance allows it.
    It’s still permitted and their lawyer is working hard as we speak. Perception is powerful- set an example – take care of your property and spend some time getting to know who you are going to rent to. We are missing the boat without leadership .

  3. Newwarren said:

    By the way Rightinri – there are no walls or barriers to keep out the riffraff you call the human element. The only thing we can do is make it as nice as possible and hold the deadbeat landlords to higher standards. What’s your solution ????

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