Letter: 'This is God's country'

Posted 2/13/19

To the editor:

I would like to start with a little bit of my background and how my family and I are personally impacted by the development of lot 3A.  

On both sides of my family my …

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Letter: 'This is God's country'

Posted

To the editor:

I would like to start with a little bit of my background and how my family and I are personally impacted by the development of lot 3A.  

On both sides of my family my great-grandparents came to Barrington from other countries. All of my grandparents were raised in Barrington. My parents met at the Peck High School where they dated and eventually married. I have two brothers and two sisters, we all graduated from Barrington High School.  

My wife and I raised our children in Barrington, two have graduated and our youngest is graduating this year.  

I love this town!  

My wife and I have been fortunate to have been able to do some traveling around the country. We both agree this is home, not only is this town beautiful, there are some really good people in town. 

My parents moved the family out to Nockum Hill in the early 80s. The first time that I ever heard the term “this is God’s country” was in our driveway on Nockum Hill. A friend of my father stepped out of his car and stood in disbelief that such a pristine piece of country still existed in town. I can't tell you how many times I have heard guests say those same words. Most people do not realize that short stretch of road is actually Barrington. You can’t get there without driving through Massachusetts.  

My mother passed away thirteen years ago. This property was her place, she loved gardening, she loved the open space, she loved watching her family grow up together on the farm most of all. I can still close my eyes and see her in her gardens, always smiling. Just about every wonderful memory growing up is at our home on George Street.  

It is this reason my wife and I bought the property from my father about six years ago. Our three children are fourth generation growing up in Barrington. Our home, the Allen West House is registered on the National List of Historic Places. Built in 1765, imagine if the walls could talk. Imagine the history that past generations witnessed there. The original homeowner witnessed the birth of our country. I wonder if his first words when he stepped off his horse drawn carriage were “this is God’s country.”

I am telling you this because I think it is just as important to understand how emotionally devastating as well as historically, environmentally and culturally devastating developing this open space is. The impact on generations of families, wildlife and history cannot be reversed once high-density development is done.  

Most people that I speak to in town think that this project is no longer happening.  

They are shocked to learn that this development of 24 condominiums is moving forward and passed the first stage of the permitting process. That means that even though the town denied this project, the State of Rhode Island gave the developer the right to build his project if it can pass engineering guidelines. The State Housing Appeals Board never looked into the concerns of the community to protect the environment, wildlife or historical significance of Nockum Hill.  

Instead SHAB focused on a loophole that North End Holdings LLC. is exploiting to maximize profits on this project. SHAB never walked the ground to see for themselves what is being proposed. So SHAB shamefully passed this project with complete disregard of the wellbeing for the community that it affects most.  

Here are some real concerns that exist with a project with this type of high-density building:

• 24 homes will be built inside of 4 acres of land on lot 3A. Think of how this will affect the existing rural area?

• There is no public water on Nockum Hill. Can the ground support 24 more families with well water? Six new wells will be within 200 feet of each other. Two wells exist right now that produce water for a horse farm and 2 family homes. How will an additional 24 families using water from the same area work out?

• There is no town sewer on Nockum Hill. Can the septic tanks contain the sewer of 24 more families without contaminating the abutting properties including the vegetable fields, irrigation ponds, horse farm, wildlife refuge and the historical Allen West House? Who is responsible for maintaining the six tanks that directly abut agricultural fields and who will be accountable if the tanks are not maintained properly?

• Where is the parking for potentially 48 motor vehicles? Not only is resident parking a problem what happens if any one of these families have guests?  

• There are no fire hydrants on Nockum Hill, shouldn’t this be a safety concern, especially when the buildings only have 15 feet between them?

• George Street is very narrow. The infrastructure cannot handle high density building or traffic. George street is a farm road.

• Nockum Hill is historically significant being the location of the first Baptist Meeting House in the new world.  

• Lot 3A is an active nesting area for the endangered Diamond Back Terrapins. 

• Drain water run off pollution has no place to go except the freshwater pond on the lot. The pond not only feeds into Four Town Farm's irrigation pond but it eventually makes its way into Hundred Acre Cove.

• Once Barrington loses this special place it can never be brought back.

I am sure that I am not addressing all the concerns that surround this development, but I hope maybe to raise some awareness as to the severity of this problem. As a community we need to come together and stand strong against the out-of-towners who are only interested in profits. I invite anyone to walk the land and make a convincing argument on why high-density building is appropriate on God’s country.

Jason Lawrence

Barrington

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