Letter: We must remain vigilant on development

Posted 10/26/23

If recent building project proposals have shown us anything, it is that financial gain often outweighs common sense.

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Letter: We must remain vigilant on development


To the editor:

If recent building project proposals have shown us anything, it is that financial gain often outweighs common sense.

In project after project, the citizens of Warren have needed to rally the support of our planning board in an effort to simply preserve sanity when it comes to the scope and impact of proposed projects on our historic neighborhoods with their narrow streets and limited parking. As we look back at the dozens of exquisite examples of history replaced by a parking lot or a strip mall, it is with resignation that we realize no town is capable of fully preserving its architectural heritage. Sacrifices are made to meet the needs of a changing and growing community.

But projects such as Penny Lane, Bettencourt Farm and Liberty Street seem to ignore the hardships they impose on surrounding neighborhoods. Such impacts variously include inadequate parking, lack of green space, removal of landmark trees, traffic congestion and the challenge high density housing poses to police, fire, and EMS personnel.

We are grateful a recently proposed development advocates renovation and preservation of Liberty Street School. But adding 25 condominium units to this parcel of land, requiring zoning variances leveraged by the promise of seven affordable housing units, is not in our town’s best interest.

Warren is fortunate to have a competent town planner and planning board to parse through the many competing issues in these cases. When a developer asks for numerous variances, including those bearing on height or our streetscape and green space, perhaps the scale of the project is not in Warren’s best interest? After all, it is not the developer that needs to parallel park every time he or she returns home, hope snow is completely removed from parking spaces, hope to find a parking space within two blocks if someone parks improperly, hope a guest can find offsite parking or hope the absence of green space does not affect the value of their housing investment.

From Bettencourt Farm to Penny Lane to Liberty Street, developers argue that such issues will be worked out. The residents will figure it out. Everyone will take a parallel parking class. The neighbors will get used to it. The need for housing cannot outweigh the inappropriate nature of out of scale, high density housing developments in the town of Warren.

We must remain vigilant in our objections to projects that obviously miss the mark with regard to the nature of Warren and what it means to live here. How much should existing neighborhoods be asked to sacrifice to insure a developer’s profit margin? Let’s try to remain reasonable.

Tim White

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