Letter: Editorial about Palmer Pointe was all wrong

Posted 9/24/19

To the editor:

As a 20-plus year Barrington resident and member of the town’s affordable housing trust board, I must challenge the editorial condemning the Palmer Pointe development as an …

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Letter: Editorial about Palmer Pointe was all wrong

Posted

To the editor:

As a 20-plus year Barrington resident and member of the town’s affordable housing trust board, I must challenge the editorial condemning the Palmer Pointe development as an outrageous affront to all things Barrington and a bad deal for the town forced on us by outsiders. A number of the statements it contained also require some perspective.

To bemoan the great density of the development as if it was going to turn the town into a congested city is a trite exaggeration. Describing Palmer Pointe as “an offensive number of units shoved into a small tract of once rural land” is simply inaccurate. The math is proof. There are actually only 40 units at Palmer Pointe, the other six are at Sweetbriar. Ten acres is 435,600 square feet. This means 40 apartments on 10,912 square feet per unit. Many of the homes on the streets between Sowams and the Palmer River and around the town sit on similarly sized lots. Like many of our neighbors in Roberta Platt, our house is on a 10,000 square foot lot. It doesn’t feel dense to us. Anyone who takes the time to drive through Palmer Pointe will also notice that it is hardly dense. It is well designed and when the landscaping is complete, it will be lovely.

Property taxes are based upon the value of the property. The real estate tax applied to Palmer Pointe under RI Law is not a tax break, but a tax based upon the value of property that is restricted by deed as affordable housing. The same premise in property tax valuation applies to churches, hospitals and private schools — where there are no taxes because they have no marketable value.

To use the argument that Palmer Pointe does not pay its fair share of taxes in dollars to pay for the education of the children who live there is disingenuous. Very few households in Barrington with children in school pay what it costs us to educate them in our town. In 2017, Barrington spent $14,838 per student and I am sure it is higher than that in 2019. My own bill is less than half this amount and we educated two children here. We have great schools and everyone contributes. Some more, some less. If you send your children to private schools, should you pay no taxes?

Barrington needs affordable housing, including rental and home ownership opportunities. One of the town’s few real weaknesses is its homogeneity. As long as where you live dictates the quality of the education children receive, it is a moral imperative to expand housing opportunities, not reduce them as modest homes get bulldozed and replaced with McMansions. Furthermore, where are our kids and seniors going to live without affordable housing? We have nothing to fear from developments like Palmer Pointe. It’s time to open our minds and hearts to affordable housing in town.

Chris Brady

Barrington

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