Editorial: Should Barrington create a gas-powered monopoly?

Posted 8/4/22

One would hope that any request for the Barrington Town Council to ban a type of business other than a strip club, casino or asphalt plant would be received and filed, no action taken. But this is …

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Editorial: Should Barrington create a gas-powered monopoly?

Posted

One would hope that any request for the Barrington Town Council to ban a type of business other than a strip club, casino or asphalt plant would be received and filed, no action taken. But this is Barrington, where the unexpected seems so normal.

The request to ban gas stations didn’t just come from within the council, it came from the council president, and it was not dismissed out of hand, a majority of councilors sent it to the Barrington Planning Board for further study.

Why might Barrington become the only town in the eastern half of the United States to ban new gas stations? Some hope Barrington can encourage citizens to move away from gasoline, to dump their gas-guzzling Escalades and Expeditions in favor of greener vehicles.

If passed, the ban would leave Barrington with one functioning gas station, and perhaps that is all the town’s residents, landscapers, contractors and delivery drivers need, since gas stations lurk at every entrance into town. However, it seems crudely anti-free market to create a monopoly within the borders of Barrington for the lone existing business selling a product that 95 percent of its residents consume daily.

There are so many ways to encourage green choices in transportation. The town could incentivize rideshare programs, build safer and more inviting pedestrian pathways, create safe bike lanes, or give tax breaks to the owners of electric vehicles. The school department could go back to busing more of this town’s students (which was once considered an efficient form of public transportation), rather than forcing parents to drive them and idle through the quagmires outside of all the town’s schools twice a day.

It also seems odd to refer a matter like this to the town’s planning board. Procedurally, it may be necessary for officially drafting an ordinance, but do social consciousness and virtue-signaling really fall under the purview of the town’s planners?

Perhaps they can do what the council chose not to do — receive and file.

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Jim McGaw

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.