Letter: Affordable housing development runs counter to neighborhood's character
To the editor:
The people of Rhode Island are fortunate to live in a state with an abundant coastline, inlet bays, rivers and estuaries. Some of us are more fortunate to live in waterfront communities such as Narragansett, East Greenwich, Wickford and of course Barrington to mention a few.
The uniqueness of our state given the abundance of waterways was recognized by former state political leaders years ago. These political leaders, along with state agencies, commissions and councils have worked diligently over the years to develop environmental plans for protection of our waterways. Some plans are broad-based while others define specific actions or tasks that must be accomplished to meet the overall objective of protecting our water quality as well as increasing the cleanliness of our waterways.
Success of these environmental plans in regards to protecting water bodies such as the Palmer River rely heavily on working with local governments. The purpose of these plans was to establish the most important priorities for improving water quality, protecting regional green space and the aquatic habitat. The plans in part, rely on maximizing the use of available land with an existing infrastructure such as sewers, roadways and ideally, houses that are available for purchase rather than construct on limited green space.
The state of Rhode Island has developed a charter to have 10 percent of all existing homes within each Rhode Island community be available for Low to Middle Income (LMIH) inhabitants. Communities below the 10 percent, mark, such as the case with Barrington and many other communities, have been requested by the state to adjust their housing imbalance.
The town of Barrington can indeed accommodate LMIH but it must be accomplished in a well planned and acceptable manner without sacrificing the preservation of our water bodies. The 10 percent “one size fits all” will not work for several waterfront communities, simply meaning that something less than 10 percent can be accomplished.
All citizens within the community of Barrington, particularly the town officials must exam their conscience and truly determine what is the highest order of importance. Is it maintaining Barrington’s character and quality of life, including sensitivity to open space and natural resources or is it to allow East Bay Community Development Corporation to recklessly push through construction of a dense multi-unit housing development to satisfy a 10 percent Low to Middle Income charter that should not be accomplished given the limitations of open space within our community.