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Monday, March 14, 2011

Cheeky Charlestown Chatter

The joint Town Council and Planning Commission meeting last Wednesday gave us lots of material and I wrote an article summarizing the travails of Mr. Veazey at the hands of the Planning Commission.

With inspiration from my ever-helpful research staff I followed that up with an article containing the surprising, at least to me, information that camps are not all zoned the same. So while there is great angst and gnashing of teeth about permitting residential zoning for the 27-acre YMCA camp there are over 100 acres in two other camps already zoned Residential and not designated as Protected Open Space in the Comprehensive Plan.

Your faithful writer listened to much of the recording of the hearing again to give you some additional food for thought.

. In my review of the recording I found that Planning Commission head Ruth Platner explained part of the inconsistency we pointed out previously. It seems that they were selective in choosing which properties they declared Open Space Recreation (OSR) to discourage an easy transition to residential but didn’t bother to do that for all similar properties. You can listen to that here. Ms. Platner also states that Camp Davis is OSR but our research staff can only find information that disputes that statement.

. Mr. Veazey received an additional bit of reality at the YMCA land use review. Our town’s lawyer, Mr. Ruggiero was just trying to be honest and helpful when he told the audience that there would be “months and perhaps years of hearings” over the zoning and subdivision plan even if the Comprehensive Plan change passes. I could see the pain on Mr. Veazey’s face.

. Gordon Foer, alternate member of the Planning Commission, confirmed our impression of his idealism at that same meeting by expressing hope that the town could purchase the land and set it up as a park for little children to happily play. That despite the anguish we are having trying to allocate some money to adequate beach facilities – that would bring money and jobs into town by making us a better tourist destination. And it’s odd that we need more land for playgrounds with all of the existing town and state-owned land that already has (Ningret) or could have (old driving range, South Farm area, and many more) playgrounds for the little kiddies. Gordon also states that there should be no hardship for the YMCA if the change isn’t made because the YMCA shouldn’t really need the money anyway.

. Speaking of kiddies, the message came right on cue. Planning Commission head, Ruth Platner, warned us that new houses will contain parasitic children. She threatened all present with higher taxes because children in these ten proposed new homes will go to school and have their schooling paid by you, and you, and you! The jihad against children that we exposed previously continues. She will say that she is only doing her duty to explain the financial impact, and I understand that, but that path leads to nothing less than a mission to actively reduce the number of children in town to reduce taxes. Where is the voice for the benefits of children and age diversity in our town?

. A member of the Watchaug Heights neighborhood north of the YMCA land tells us that there are only two school children among the 30 homes there. While our valiant researchers have not been able to verify that number, it gives us some confidence in feeling that the proposed 10 homes should not experience an explosion of kiddies and their taxes will likely cover their cost of services. (Sparing you the math for the moment.)

. We also got to hear, from a citizen I am leaving unnamed, how the proposed development would prove a threat to “potential rare wildflowers”. That argument seems to ignore the most likely alternative use of this property as some sort of camp with hundreds of children running around in the wildflowers all day without a conservation buffer along the shoreline.

. And we heard about the threat to the “tremendous variety of wildlife”. Perhaps she means the feral cats, skunks and raccoons which have likely taken up residence in some of the 14 unused buildings on this pristine site.

. OK, I know I've set a pattern of whining so don't be shocked by the next statement. Councilwoman Lisa DiBello gave a very impressive summary of her opinion. I encourage you to watch it here.

Author: Tom Ferrio