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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Planning Commission holds SSDD meeting TONIGHT

Get out the pliers and open wide
Will the Planning Commission make Cross Mills FD
tear this down?
By Will Collette

Given the new powers the Planning Commission is seeking to carve out for itself (see below), I am hopeful that tonight’s Planning Commission meeting will be even more entertaining than their March 28th meeting. 

During that meeting, the Planning Commission members staged a rare rebellion against their fearless leader, Planning Commissar Ruth Platner, refusing to back her play to give the Charlestown Land Trust aid and comfort in conducting another fictional assessment of the YMCA campground property. There’s hope yet that the town will cancel this terrible $475,000 boondoggle.

And who can forget the Commission's remarkable discussion about the plans to put blue shingles on the new building for sanitary facilities at Blue Shutters Beach?



There is some potential for more wild and crazy stuff from those zany commissioners in tonight’s agenda. After all, they’re going to talk – again – about the dark sky lighting ordinance. They did not post any documents related to the ordinance on Clerkbase. So who knows what the latest iteration of this much-revised ordinance will look like. So much for transparency - if they were our Town Administrator, they would be howling that somebody should chop their heads off.

They’re also going to talk – again – about a statistical analysis they want cooked up about affordable housing in the Chariho towns. 

It also looks like Commissar Platner is gearing up to make another run at gutting the state’s affordable housing law. But far be it for me to impugn her motives. We’ll just have to see how “the conversation” goes. I know that Platner, and her partner, Town Council Boss Tom Gentz, are still smarting at their inability to get town support for the Platner-Gentz Affordable Housing Deconstruction Act.

But before they get to all this exciting stuff, they’re going to discuss, probably for at least an hour, two sets of ordinance re-writes they’ve been working on. One deals with the Planning Commission’s regulation of open space (always a favorite subject)  The other deals with a plan for the Planning Commission to appoint itself as the “Historical Village District Commission.” So if you live along or near Route 1A, meet your new boss, Ruth Platner. If this proposal passes, that is. 

The plan is for this new role for the Planning Commission to include regulating every facet of life in the District. I noted with interest that one whole section deals with building materials. This, no doubt, stems from Platner and her plucky planners’ effort to force the Cross Mills Fire District to use clapboard instead of brick on their new firehouse, and to build several small, quaint little buildings, instead of a single building that can actually accommodate modern fire equipment and not just horse-drawn fire wagons.

If town residents and businesses in Charlestown’s Historic Village District want to get a taste of what life will be like with the Planning Commissars acting as your overseers and arbiters of taste, beauty and functionality, read “Planning Commission’s Remodelling Plans at 'Blue Shingles' Beach." 

The Cross Mills Station was held up by Platner’s objections for almost two years.

But never again, if Platner gets her new badge of authority as Her Majesty of the Historic District.

1 comment:

  1. See how many problems YOU can find with the Planning Commission's proposal when compared to the below exerpt of the enbling legislation for Hisoric Districts. And, this is only ONE subsection of the Historical Area Zoning law!!
    To understand how state law trumps local "law", read Munroe v Town of East Greenwich, decided by RI Supreme Court in 1999. Ironically, there it was the Town Council acting to grab power from the Planning Board! The Court held: "Consequently, the Development Review Act is an act of general application that would supersede an inconsistent home rule charter provision directing a town council to act as a planning board or commission." In this case, the Historical Area Zoning is an "act of general application" (directing the appointment of members of the public, including representatives of historical societies) which would supercede a local zoning provision which directs an elected Planning Board to "sit" as the Historic District Commission.


    § 45-24.1-3. Creation of commission authorized - Membership appointment - Term of office


    (a) In order to carry out the purposes of this chapter any city or town council shall have the authority to create a commission called the historic district commission. The membership of a commission in a city shall consist of seven (7) qualified members, and in a town shall consist of not less than three (3) nor more than seven (7) qualified members, whose residence is located in the city or town; and provided, that the historic district commission of the city of Providence shall consist of eleven (11) qualified members, two (2) of whom shall be members of the city council elected by the city council from its councilmanic members to serve for a term of four (4) years. In a city the members shall be appointed by the mayor, except as provided in the case of the historic district commission of the city of Providence, and in a town, by the president of the town council. Members of an historic district commission shall be residents of the city or town.

    (b) The appointed members of the commission shall be appointed for three (3) year terms, except the initial appointments of some of the members shall be for less than three (3) years so that the initial appointments are staggered and so that subsequent appointments do not reoccur at the same time.

    (c) Any city or town has the right to name an auxiliary member of the commission appointed in addition to the regular members of the commission; provided, that the city of Newport shall have the right to appoint two (2) auxiliary members to its historic district commission. An auxiliary member shall sit as an active member, upon the request of the chair, when and if a regular member of the commission is unable to serve at any meeting of the commission.

    (d) Appointed members of the commission are eligible for reappointment, and, upon the expiration of their term, shall continue to serve until replaced unless otherwise provided for in local law.

    (e) In the event of a vacancy on the commission, interim appointments of appointed members may be made by the appointing authority to complete the unexpired term of the position.

    (f) Organized and existing preservation societies may present to the appointing authority of a city or town a list of qualified citizens, from which list the appointing authority may select members of the commission for his or her respective city or town.

    (g) Members of a commission shall serve without compensation.

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