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Revised Sowams Housing Emerges

The affordable-housing development proposed for the Sowams Nursery property in Barrington includes 50 housing units in a complex named Palmer Pointe Neighborhood.

A new version of the affordable-housing development proposed for the Sowams Nursery site on Sowams Road will be presented to the Barrington Planning Board at a special meeting on Sept. 27.

The development is now named Palmer Pointe Neighborhood, according to a story in the Barrington Times. But the proposed development still includes 50 houses spread over 9.15 acres at 91 and 97 Sowams Road.

East Bay Community Development Corporation in Bristol is the developer. EBCDC is the same organization that operates the much-opposed Sweetbriar affordable-housing development off of Washington Road in Barrington.

Indeed, a petition opposing the development has been circulating in the Hampden Meadows neighborhood, according to a separate story in the Barrington Times.

The petition reads:

“We the undersigned are opposed to the creation of a multi-unit housing complex at the Sowams Nursery located on Sowams Street, Barrington, RI, and request that no further municipal governmental actions be taken to facilitate any such construction, based on the following considerations:

1. The Sowams Nursery is not an appropriate location for prospective multi-unit construction, and is not in the best interests of the Town of Barrington.

2. Prospective construction of dense-housing/rentals on the Sowams property is not consistent with the Comprehensive Town Plan.

3. Extensive further study and discussion is necessary at the local, state and federal levels regarding community concerns that exist or may arise in the course of exploring the appropriateness or viability of construction on the Sowams Nursery property.

Our opposition in this matter is not intended to interfere with the spirit of governmental objectives to accommodate state policy concerning the embrace of LMIH in our town.”

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steve primiano September 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Every barrington resident should ask the following questions. Will high density affordable housing be good for town finances, property values, or our schools. The answer is a resounding NO! Despite that, the Democratic majority on our Town Council has abondoned their responsibility to work for the best interests of residents and supports this and other initiatives (banning plastic bags) that fit their personal agendas. The upcoming election will offer a clear choice on the role of local government. The three Republican candidates for Town Council believe that Barrington already exceeds the 10% affordable mandate, and have pledged to oppopse the tax subsidies and deed restrictions granted by the current Council.
Gary Morse September 17, 2012 at 12:06 PM
This project will still require huge property tax subsidies paid by town residents as were approved for Sweetbriar by our current town council members June Speakman and Kate Weymouth. I would like to know why the town is only counting affordable homes with a deed restriction when RIGL § 42-128-8.1, the "Comprehensive Housing Production and Rehabilitation Act of 2004" makes no requirement for a deed restriction in the counting process, and is statutorily mandated to be a part of Barrington's Comprehensive Community Plan? Also, why is the town taking their legal opinions solely from a law firm who is also representing the affordable developers? Finally, what exactly did town attorney Nancy Letendre mean when she said in the July 2012 Barrington Town Council meeting regarding the affordable housing laws: "There's a lot of attorney's whose livelihood depends on these fuzzy clauses here".
Joan Kirk September 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I can't help but notice the 'for sale' signs that are still and have been present along 114 for the previous affordable housing project. I am neither for nor against, just observing what seems to be the obvious. Does anyone know what the problem is with getting these available units sold/bought?
Lorraine F September 17, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Joan, To your point about why they are not selling, why buy in an affordable development when you can get an equally good deal in town and not have to be surrounded by curtain rod thrashing neighbors (yes I know that was in Sweetbriar). This is the fallacy of affordable housing projects, that people who need affordable housing actually want to live in one.
Shades of Gray September 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Manifold Witness? Where are you on this?
Manifold Witness September 17, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Endorsing Steve, Gary, Joan & Lorraine who have said it all quite well. Thanks, Shades of Gray. ;-)
DanComment September 17, 2012 at 08:12 PM
GREAT POINT!
B/STOCK September 17, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Well said Lorraine
Barbara Donovan September 18, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Election day is coming - don't forget !!!
Louise September 18, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I agree w/Joan & Steve...just say NO to the building of more "affordable" housing....and yes...election day can not arrive soon enough!!!!!
Gary Morse September 18, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Louise, The problem is that two town council members have long believed that affordable housing, and the local tax subsidies that go along with affordable housing, is good public policy. Councilors Speakman and Weymouth have implemented not only public policy in this direction (e.g. via biased local ordinances), but have also stacked the Housing Board, the Planning Board, and hired a Town Planner who are all focused along this singled minded initiative. To date, town officials have not answered my question being why are only deed restricted homes counted in the 10% mandate, when the RI statutes do not say this is the only way to count affordable housing. And why is our town legal counsel coming only from a law firm who also represents the affordable developers. To get a change in direction will require a change in the majority town council.
Barbara Donovan September 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
The Housing Board of Review needs 4 new members, what do you think my chances are if I should apply ? Barbara Donovan
Barbara Donovan September 18, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I have lived in town since 1964. Have been a licensed Realtor in town since 1977. Was President of the "Save The Station Committee" that lost our drive to maintain the old police station, but managed to save the land and boat ramp that is now Police Cove Park. I wasn't very popular then with the "powers that be", but look at the results !! I wonder if I can save the seniors ? Barbara Donovan
Gary Morse September 19, 2012 at 01:22 AM
At tonight's Housing Board meeting, there was discussion over what is included in the town's Comprehensive Community Plan. The Housing Board thinks it only includes the "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act". That is not correct! This is what the law under SECTION 45-22.2-6(b) actually states for this matter: (6) Housing. The plan must include the identification of existing housing patterns, an analysis of existing and forecasted housing needs, and identification of areas suitable for future housing development or rehabilitation. The plan shall include an affordable housing program that meets the requirements of § 42-128-8.1, the "Comprehensive Housing Production and Rehabilitation Act of 2004" and chapter 45-53, the "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act". The plan must include goals and policies that further the goal of subdivision 45-22.2-3(c)(3) and implementation techniques that identify specific programs to promote the preservation, production, and rehabilitation of housing. The problem remains that we are taking our lead from a self promoting RI agency being RI Housing who have no interest other than to extend their power base over the town's right to self determination. Nobody is pushing back on how to count affordable homes!! That is a big problem that needs to be challenged!
Gary Morse September 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM
There will be no Sowams public comment period allowed for the Sept 27 special meeting. That was stated in the Housing Board meeting last night. It appears this project will be rushed through before the election to assure the rental property tax subsidies are voted on and granted by the town council before the next election.
Barbara Donovan September 19, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Maybe we can get the ACLU involved because there is no senior mandate ! That would rattle a few cages. Barbara Donovan
Gary Morse September 19, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Barbara, It's clear that RI Housing wants fiefdom control over Barrington's right to self determination. The Barrington Housing Board all but admitted last night that the 10% state mandate can never be reached, but town officials are unwilling to challenge this absurdity. The answers last night at the Housing Board meeting show that RI Housing is a state agency far worse than the EDC could ever be. Consider: When Barrington creates the Comprehensive Community Plan, it is restricted to Barrington only. When the 10% housing waivers are granted, they are also town/city specific. But last night we were told by the Housing Board that when they compute the 10% state mandate, we are blended with the surrounding communities (e.g. the calculation of what the median income is). This is a mandate gone insane.
Barbara Donovan September 19, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Subsidized housing with kayak launch ?? Barbara Donovan

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