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Return Housing Control to Town

State mandate that 10 percent of Barrington's housing stock must be affordable takes control away from local residents.

“No questions allowed.”

If you were one of the nearly 100 people who sat patiently in attendance during the April Housing Board of Trustees meeting, you were probably just as shocked as I was to hear the voices of Barrington citizens silenced on the proposed affordable housing project at Sowams Nursery.

Whether you are a proponent of affordable housing or not, the public examination and debate of its merits needs to occur before we take one more step towards its development.

I believe that the Town of Barrington and its citizens should have full control of their own housing laws and zoning regulations - because of a 10 percent housing mandate passed by the Rhode Island State Legislature in 2004, we do not.

Together as a community, we should be able to consider alternatives -- senior housing for Barrington residents, a town park, open space or recreational fields.

I am running for State Representative to return control of local policy and tax dollars back to the people of Barrington. If you would like to share your views of the Sowams Nursery project or any issue, please email me at electpetercostajr@gmail.com.

It’s time to listen to the people of Barrington and make our government accountable.

Peter D. Costa, Jr., Candidate for State Representative, District 67 (Barrington, Warren)

Gary Morse May 15, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The history of this project will have every resident questioning just who is doing the "planning" in town. Read the background: http://www.eastbayri.com/news/2012/may/15/denied-plans-spur-development-sowams-road/ The council needs to take up the question of how these properties are being given as much as an 80% property tax reduction by our assessor which is not being made up by the state. Is this compliant with out state laws and constitution? Even if compliant with state laws, so was pension reform, yet that is also being challenged in court. There are many in town who earn less money than those in affordable housing, yet receive no relief in property taxes. This issue must be challenged by our council.
Gary Morse May 15, 2012 at 07:50 PM
The Planning Board relies on year 2000 data from the US Census Bureau to determine the income distribution throughout the town (see page 9 of the Barrington Comprehensive Community Plan). It may surprise you that the Census data in year 2000 showed that 33% of all Barrington households had incomes of less than $50K. 19% were less than $30K for total household income. These families must pay the full weight of their property taxes. Although there are senior discounts, these discounts are minimal when compared to the subsidy currently being given to affordable housing. The council must act on behalf of those residents who sit on the edge and at the same time, are being asked to subsidize those with more. It is time for the state to pay their share.
Ignorance is not bliss May 15, 2012 at 08:45 PM
You have the opportunity to voice your questions and concerns tonight at the Barrington Housing Forum, 7:00 in the town council chambers.
B/STOCK May 16, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Why isn't it called exactly what it really is, subsidized housing.
ddrfra May 16, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I agree with garymm....the State needs to reassess.
Ignorance is not bliss May 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Peter Costa, what are you proposing to do?
Gary Morse May 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
One immediate suggestion is to make the town council explain the legal interpretation by which they are granting affordable housing as much as an 80% property tax break with no corresponding payment by the state to make up the shortfall. Without a rational explanation, I would make clear to any developer that their property may in the future be taxed at a higher rate as this matter is settled.
CommitteetoElectPeterCostaJr May 29, 2012 at 04:15 AM
@ignoranceisbliss...elect state legislators who will work hard to repeal the 10% mandate on affordable housing which is, in my opinion, poorly thought out public policy and a mandate that continues to put communities like Barrington into a bind. Think about it, under the mandate Barrington must work its way towards 600 "affordable" housing units, and I may be a little off but I believe we are only about 1/6 of the way there. The mandate was a one-size fits all approach to the pre-recession housing boom and now that the avg home value in towns like Barrington has fallen by 100k we need to either repeal the mandate, or incorporate homes into the category of "affordable", so the town does not have to lose any more open space. Please let me know your thoughts, thanks.
Ignorance is not bliss May 29, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Peter, should we be concerned with the dry lands bill H-7866 and S-2616 which is currently being proposed? As I understand it, the bill allows denser housing development, where it is not planned by State Guide Plan or wanted by local zoning. This means, even if your town wants certain zoning requirements...the legislature is about to take that right away from you and your town.
Frank Silvia May 29, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Peter your point is well -taken ...there is affordable housing already in Barrington. Why did Rep Malik vote for the 10% mandate for affordable housing on cities and towns in 2004 requiring Barrington to have 600 affordable housing units? Does he know how damaging this mandate is on Barrington's limited open space?
CommitteetoElectPeterCostaJr May 30, 2012 at 04:19 PM
@ignoranceisnotbliss...I will tell you the same thing that I said to mentioned to another group who was concerned about this proposed legislation. "H-7866 is another bill that takes power from RI cities and towns and transfers that power to the state government. It is imperative that Barrington controls its own zoning regulations and housing laws. This legislation is another bad piece of public policy." The bill is a local zoning problem for Barrington but it also could have negative consequences for our local environment and limited open space.
JMadson May 30, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Frank - when this affordable housing issue came to the patch I looked at the June 24, 2004 house of reps journal to see who voted for this bill, and Rep. Malik missed the vote, which means Barrington and Warren did not have a voice on this critical issue...missing votes.seems to be a problem for this guy. In 2011, he missed 355 votes the 2nd most in the entire House (www.rivotes.org). I hope the Democrats in Barrington find someone else to replace Malik, I'm a Democrat in town and his record is not very good.

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