Barrington petition: Save Nockum Hill


The town needs to challenge a recent decision by the state's housing appeals board, and it needs to do so with new legal representation.

That's the message shared in a recent petition being circulated by The Friends of Nockum Hill, a residents group that seeks to protect the open space in and around George Street.

The petition comes on the heels of a written decision by the state's housing appeals board, which overturned the planning board's denial of a 24-unit housing development on George Street. The planning board had rejected the proposal for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the infrastructure could not support the development and that the units did not fit the rural character of that part of Barrington.

Members of the housing appeals board overturned that denial, and issued its official decision last week.

Now, members of the Friends of Nockum Hill are calling for the town to file an appeal in Rhode Island Superior Court. The legal action appears to be the final step to thwart the development, which would abut the Nockum Hill conservation area.

"We, the undersigned … respectfully demand and petition that the Barrington Town Council move immediately to obtain new, vigorous legal counsel to appeal within 20 days of the SHAB written decision, dated June 26, 2014, to the Rhode Island Superior Court to reverse the decision of SHAB…" states the petition.

The first page of the petition lists the numerous reasons the Friends of Nockum Hill feel the development needs to be stopped, including the historical significance of that part of Barrington — it is the site of the first Baptist church in all of Massachusetts.

The second page of the petition lists the call for new legal representation on the case. Many members of the Friends of Nockum Hill have been disappointed in the performance of the town solicitor, Michael Ursillo, and his associates.

The petition carries the final message: "Save our farmland, turtles, open space and heritage!"

According to members of the Friends of Nockum Hill, the petition is being circulated around town; there is also a copy of the petition located at the monument near the entrance to the Rayner Refuge on George Street.

Petition details

A new petition calls for the town council to hire an outside attorney to fight a recent decision by the state housing appeals board. The petition lists a number of reasons the town should oppose the development, including:

• Nockum Hill is the town's most endangered, agricultural, ecological and historical area;

• Nockum Hill is not suitable for the development, which will require a large on-site septic, private wells and a private road

• Nockum Hill has no public water, no sewer, no public transportation, no sidewalks, no cable or internet service;

• Nockum Hill is a nesting place for the endangered diamondback terrapin;

• Nockum Hill is the site of first Baptist church in all of Massachusetts;

• Abutters were not allowed to offer comments during the state housing appeal board hearing


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.