Fifteen years ago I bought land off East Road and built a home. I could have settled in another town but chose Tiverton because it was beautifully rural, while balanced by some commercial …
Fifteen years ago I bought land off East Road and built a home. I could have settled in another town but chose Tiverton because it was beautifully rural, while balanced by some commercial development. The town’s green open space and bedrock history clinched it. I enjoyed my new home and settled in.
I wasn’t prepared for what occurred a few years later, when an indoor gun range appeared in a thickly settled neighborhood. (When I show out-of-state friends photos of the business and its location, they are incredulous. “Guinness Book,” they comment.) This is not to deny target shooters their space; I have enjoyed that sport myself. But Tiverton can offer potential gun range sites infinitely more appropriate than this one — as it is, scant yards from Main Road and surrounded by private homes. The question occurred: By whose misplaced judgment was this approved?
It was then I began paying attention. And it hasn’t been pretty. There are nearly 600 housing units either approved for building or in the pipeline, for the area around Souza Road between Main and Fish roads. Some of these units are bound to house families with children. If we extrapolate a minimum of 2.5 arriving residents per unit, then town authorities have already approved, or are about to approve, an influx of about 1,500 new residents.
With a current population about 16,000, Tiverton is about to gain nine new people for every hundred it has now. Take a breath. Our infrastructure, schools, police, fire and emergency responders will face a burden I never imagined on signing for my property back in 2008. And please note, this is not NIMBYism; my house sits miles from these developments. They still make a travesty of our town’s Comprehensive Plan.
Insult to injury, a regional gas and retail chain now has its foot in the door for a 24-hour fuel and convenience store outlet at Main and Souza roads, just a stone’s throw from stately homes of the Osborn Bennett historic district. Unlike in Tiverton, every other nearby Seasons market (Bristol, Middletown, Fall River) sits on a four-lane highway, not at the intersection of a two-lane state road and a narrow country lane.
These proposed and approved developments would be transformational for Tiverton. But how do you wake a Town Hall from their coma of permissiveness for unfettered development? I moved here believing that we pay town government to guard quality of life, not only now but for the future. Planning boards are there to plan, zoning boards to zone. Are they fulfilling that with wisdom and foresight? Town councils are there to guide and direct. Is ours doing that effectively? Are they assisting the boards in their jobs?
They’ve been coming up short while I wasn’t looking. I’m paying better attention now.